And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Peter had made some bold statements about his faithfulness to the Lord. He claimed that he would not be offended by Jesus. He said that he would die with Jesus and scoffed at the idea of denying Him. His spirit truly was willing. It was obvious in his life that he was dedicated to Jesus, even if he did get himself into trouble and even if he didn’t always understand. He had heart. He had passion. And he was one of the three that Jesus had asked to pray with Him.
But Peter’s flesh was weak. He gave in to his sleepiness. He later gave in to his fear, his anger, his hurt, and he denied his Lord three times. He didn’t utilize the one tool a diligent follower of Jesus would have seen was so important. He had neglected prayer, and he was weak in a moment of decision. He hadn’t sought God and His strength and His counsel and His help, and so in his own power, he failed his Lord and felt so strongly the shame of that. If he had stayed awake and prayed with Jesus, prayed about his own weaknesses and his own tendencies to fall into sin, he would have been able to have the proper responses in the heat of the moment.
Jesus’ example to His disciples was a life of constant prayer, not the once-a-day “bless this food” kind of praying. His prayer life was deep and intimate and extremely personal. He relied on it. He toiled at it. He took as much time as was necessary for it, sometimes spending hours, if not the whole night, in prayer. That’s what it took to be ready for every trial. That’s what it took to have constant strength and self-restraint. That’s what it took to face a mob of opposition every day. And if Jesus was so dependent on prayer, then we should be, too.
Perhaps we can relate to Peter in a lot of ways. Our spirits are willing. We love the Lord, and we so desire to honor Him and serve Him with our lives. Maybe we have that same passion that Peter had, that bold outspokenness that wasn’t afraid to be wrong sometimes, and so we can understand wanting so much to please the Lord but falling on our face instead. But our flesh is weak. It wasn’t the God part of Jesus that needed to spend so much time in prayer, but it was the human part of Him. So let’s not neglect this vital practice in our lives. Let’s purpose to spend time with God in prayer—meaningful time—and let’s spend as much time as it takes. That way we will be much better prepared to face anything that comes our way and respond in the proper way.