Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Reflect and Pray:
Jesus has taken Peter, James and John, the inner circle, to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Leaving them in one place to pray, he goes on further in the garden to pray alone. When he comes back to check on them, they are fast asleep. He chastises them, and counsels them to “stay awake and pray”.
In the gospel of Matthew “to watch” or “to stay awake” is used in the context of looking for signs of the coming Kingdom of God or the Son of Man.
So, to watch and pray is more about spiritual alertness and intercession (praying for others) than anything else. What does it mean to stay awake and watch with Jesus? Could it mean to be on the lookout for those around us who are in need? Think with me, at any given point in our lives, we know of someone who is facing darkness, fear, illness, death, bereavement, pain, catastrophe or loss. This is an invitation from Christ to stay with them, to watch and pray alongside them. (I earnestly believe that often, there are those in whose silence there is an invitation to stay and watch and pray with them.)
Gethsemane can be a hospital bed, an open grave, an unemployment line, or divorce court to name a few. Our friends and neighbors are vulnerable and need our support. Have we ourselves not found the ground giving way beneath our feet and desired the same? Let us pray that we will be prepared to give them our support, encouragement and prayer to be fullest of our ability in Christ.