“Couldn’t you watch with Me even one hour?” Matthew 26:40 (NLT)
Each Holy Week we are invited to take the journey with Jesus to the Last Supper, into the Garden of Gethsemane and then to ascend the hill of Golgotha to the cross. In my last blog post “A Disciple’s First Calling” I shared how when Jesus initially called His disciples, and us, His first and primary intention was, and always will remain, that we simply be with Him. And I made the point that being with Him is expressed most naturally through relating to Him in prayer, just as He related to the Father.
The very last time Jesus was with His disciples, pre-crucifixion, that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He renewed that “be with” calling in a way that has been indelibly etched in the heart of every follower of Christ. Knowing He would no longer be with them in the natural, He was preparing them for a post resurrection relationship with Him in the Spirit. One of the last things He said to Peter, James and John in the Garden that night was “remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38) He then moved further beyond them “about a stone’s throw away,” and falling with His face to the ground He began praying with such fervency that “His sweat became like drops of blood.”
When He arose from prayer He came back to the three and found them sleeping. It was then that He said these oft-quoted and hauntingly powerful words “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26: 40)
The two words that I want to give special consideration to in this meditation are “with Me.” In the Gethsemane account in the book of Matthew we see in the space of three verses Jesus urging His disciples to watch and prayer using the “with Me” reference two successive times. (vs. 38 & 40)
Prayer “with” Jesus is the critical distinguishing characteristics of “Christian” prayer, in comparison to the prayers of all the other religious traditions. The very essence of prayer for followers of Christ is found in that simple phrase “with Me.”
We must ask the question, “Where is Jesus right now?” The obvious answer is that “Jesus is in heaven.” We are told in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that when God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority and dominion and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-12)
The next question we must ask is “What is Jesus doing right now?” If we can fully grasp the answer to that question, it will change how we pray. To put it succinctly, Jesus is still interceding. The writer to Hebrews gives us an incredible insight into Jesus’ present day activity when he says that Jesus “always lives to intercede for” those who come to God through Him. (Hebrews 7:25)
Here is the bottom line. We have been invited, even urged to watch and pray with Jesus. To pray with Jesus means to pray with power and authority! You see Paul’s description of Christ’s ascension and seating in the heavenlies didn’t stop there. The next verse in Ephesians says “And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23) Did you notice the word “for”? All this was “for” a praying church. And where are we invited to be as praying people? We are told in the next chapter “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6) There is that phrase “with Him” again.
It is amazing to consider that the invitation to watch and pray with Him is an invitation to be seated with Him in a place of absolute authority. Praying from that place distinguishes us from all other types of pray’ers. We can pray with unshakable faith and we can have confidence that we will get results. Praying with the Master Pray’er guarantees success!
If a master carpenter said to you “Come build a house with me,” how do you think it would turn out? Undoubtedly the project would be a great success. If the master carpenter sent you to the lumber yard to get a certain type of building material that was needed and told you to say to the front desk, “The Master Carpenter has need of it” (ala Jesus sending his disciples for the donkey) do you think the lumberyard would give it to you? Of course.
That is what it means to watch and pray with Jesus. We are no longer in the Garden, a stone’s throw away from Jesus. We are now actually seated with Him on His throne in the heavenly realms where the business of the universe is transacted.
Like the old gospel preacher has said – if that doesn’t spark a fire in your heart for prayer, your wood is wet.
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