Thank you, Lord, for prevailing in prayer for us.
Read LUKE 22:39–62
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[a]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
Peter Disowns Jesus
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
a Luke 22:44 Many early manuscripts do not have verses 43 and 44.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Lord, teach us to pray … When you pray, say … ‘Lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1–4)
On the day when “darkness reigns” (53), Jesus prays and calls his disciples to prayer. Having taught his disciples to pray “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:10) he makes the prayer his own in the most extreme circumstances. The battle for the future of the universe (the kingdom of God) is now being fought in prayer. The true humanity of God’s incarnate Son is seen most fully in this anguished prayer and subsequent obedience to the Father. It is Jesus’ knowledge of and obedience to the Scriptures which leads him to his distress over the cross. (Luke 18:31–33; 22:37) His calling has been profoundly costly.
This tension between our will and God’s lies at the heart of our prayer and obedience to Scripture also. How much of our prayer life seeks personal blessings, and how much does it merge with God’s greater purposes for the world? Do we treat the Bible as a personal promise box? Bonhoeffer warned: “We no longer read the Bible seriously. We read it no longer against ourselves but only for ourselves.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Works in English, vol 11)
Twice Jesus has told the disciples to pray that they would not “fall into temptation” (40, 46), meaning to yield to temptation or to fail when tested. Instead, they are now asleep. They are weaker than they think and do not understand what is happening; and they are under spiritual attack (31). Their fall is not final, because Jesus has prayed for them (32), but had they prayed when Jesus told them to, is it possible that the sword might have stayed in its sheath when Jesus gets arrested, or that Peter might not have denied his Lord? Either way, prayer informed by Scripture enhances our position on the battleground.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and meditatively, using a different version from the usual. Do we take these words on our lips too easily, without awareness of the spiritual battle?
Lord, give us the grace never to deny You, even under the most pressing circumstances.