“Why are you sleeping? ” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t fall into temptation” (Luke 22:46, Christian Standard Bible).
I find alarm clocks annoying but necessary. I am not one of those people whose eyes pop open automatically, and who cheerfully jumps up to face the new day. I prefer to snuggle down for a few more minutes before finally edging one toe off the edge of the bed. Gradually . . . very slowly . . . the whole foot finds the floor. And then the second foot. But I’m still groggy.
Sleep is healthy and restorative, but drowsiness or sleeping at the wrong time can prove dangerous. That’s why some medications carry warning labels regarding driving or operating heavy equipment while taking them. Certain health conditions, such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea, cause sleepiness at unexpected times.
As Jesus faced the most agonizing and crucial hours of His life, His disciples fell asleep. When they should have been on “high alert” and watchful, they allowed themselves to slide into the vulnerable and defenseless position of sleep. Watchfulness and prayer go hand in hand, but they did neither. It wasn’t just them; we also find ourselves dozing instead of watching.
Why do we allow sleep to overtake us? I suppose the simple answer is life. It’s easy for us to allow our daily routine to lull us into spiritual lethargy. Busyness, materialism, the push to get ahead in life—so many things contribute to our sluggishness. The disciples didn’t intend to ignore Jesus’ admonition to pray, but it happened. Nor do we intend to become so caught up in daily activities that we forget time alone with God, but that happens too.
What can we do to stay alert? To keep our physical bodies energized we can exercise, drink water, get some sunlight, eat healthy, and interact with others. To stay spiritually awake we do much the same. We stay spiritually nourished through His Word. We interact with Him in prayer. We let His light shine on us.
One minister stated that there is no “spiritual autopilot.” We can’t set a course and then forget it. We must always remain alert and ready. Otherwise, the enemy of our souls will attack us while we sleep. We then find ourselves in places we never thought we’d go.
It is imperative that we stay awake and alert!
“Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11, CSB).
Prayer: Lord, keep me alert and on guard at all times. If I allow the things of this life to distract me, it becomes so easy to give in to any temptation the enemy puts before me. I must feed on Your Word and drink deeply from the water of life. Help me to keep our relationship alive and strong. It is through Your power that I can live a victorious and watchful life.