Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
- Matthew 26:41
Will just ramble on a little about this, it may be somewhat incoherent.
Been meditating upon this verse. The second part of this verse is often quoted but on its own, it merely serves as a factual statement. It begs the question, so if there is this civil war of the soul ongoing, what can we do? The answer is found in the first part of the verse, but even then I have always glossed it over, that the solution is simply to pray.
Yet what if prayer is the very thing that the spirit desires and the flesh rebels against? It has always bothered me that the answer to the struggle of lacking a prayer life, is to pray. It's circular. There must be something more at play here.
The key here is the term watch. Watching is a term that appears all throughout the Bible, in both the old testament and the new testament, and its a term that often appears in conjunction with pray. This is clearly no coincidence, and it's not something we can neglect.
So what does it mean to watch? There are lots of things to watch for, but in general it has to do with keeping an alert state of mind that is able to recognise what needs to be recognised. In this particular case, it is watching for temptation. Being alert for and recognising its signs. Temptation creeps in silently like a thief in the night, and it is the watchmen who will spot the thief and swiftly deal with the threat.
In dealing with temptation, the first time is to recognise it, and that part comes from watching. If we are able to detect the temptation and hence able to perceive the threat, we will be willing to do something about it. That is when the prayer aspect comes in. Prayer is the weapon that deals with the temptation.
Thus, in the case of the temptation not to pray, by watchfulness we recognise the threat that it will pose in our walk with God. It gives us a motivation, a reason to want to pray and so we will. So it is not quite wrong to say yes the answer to not desiring to pray, is to pray, but there needs to be this additional element of watchfulness.
Watching and praying will always go hand in hand. What's the use of a weapon if the enemy cannot be detected? What's the use of detecting the enemy, if the weapon is not employed?
I've been discovering how closely interlinked many concepts are and it is pretty amazing. This idea of watching actually relates back to renewing our minds. The shema confession and pastor tim's sharing on the three fundamental pillars of building on solid rock also closely relate to this.
More than just wishing or a tame wanting, I pray that we will all really have a hunger and desperation for God.