When I was younger I hated going to bed. I would pretend to fall asleep, only to sneak a book, or a game, or anything else under my covers with a flashlight and rebel against the night. With tremendous passion, energy, and excitement, I would read whole books, play entire video games, and watch endless hours of shows as a great testament to what little boys are capable of when they really set their mind to it. I would do this until the early hours of the morning, when I was finally too exhausted to resist falling asleep.
And yet, I couldn’t be bothered to pray with anything resembling my gargantuan efforts to fight against the night when fun was involved. Why is that? The simple answer is that I was immature. Obviously, to a boy’s mind there’s so much more to enjoy in books, games, shows, than in prayer! The question is: how many of us are still having difficulty with making or taking time to pray? Or do we even see the importance of it?
What Jesus shows us in this scene is something that we knew from the Old Testament: whenever we pray, we enter into a wrestling match with the Almighty (Genesis 32:22-32). Thousands of years before Jesus, Jacob wrestled with God, and in doing so was renamed Israel meaning: he who wrestles with God.
But if prayer is a wrestling match between us and God, as both Jacob and Jesus show us, it’s no wonder, then, that we often avoid it at all costs! In our human strength, it is far easier to fall asleep to the moment, to ourselves, to God — rather than to wrestle with Him in prayer.
We think that we want to encounter God, but as soon as our flesh tastes the immediate difficulty of it — we tap out. Now our response to this is not to demean our weakness. Jesus knows how weak we are because apart from Him, everything is much harder (John 15:5). He is our friend and our help in times of need. We see in the garden that while we were all-too-willing to fall asleep to the real need, he stayed up through the night to petition His Father.
You may be overwhelmed by your inability to pray. But that’s not the point. Rather, our goal is to entrust ourselves to Jesus, our great high priest, who is able to make our sorry excuses for prayer and turn it into something sweet for the Lord (Hebrews 4:14).
By Ryan Lunde
Pastor of Young Adults
CLICK HERE to receive our devotional via email.