Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
This verse is an admonition by the Lord in the context of Him asking His disciples to keep watch while he prays in the garden of Gethsemane. That prayer is crucial for history and salvation. Will He go to the cross or not? Jesus said to His disciples “keep watch while I pray.” The apostles instead fell asleep.
Jesus needed His disciples to watch in the sense of being a moral and spiritual support for His prayer about this crucial decision. They seemed to have sensed the importance of what was about to come – Peter stated a bit earlier that he would never deny Jesus, that he would die for his Lord. Yet, he and the rest, who sore allegiance to Jesus fell asleep during a less trying requirement to be loyal.
It is a tendency of the flesh to escape pivotal spiritual moments and battles. It is too much for us to bear. Yet there is a remedy for this weakness – prayer.
Our spirit is willing and ready, but we live in a mortal body. We are not only spirits. I like the term “flesh” rather than “the body” used in KJV. The flesh is our being, spirit soul and body, living under the conditions and the demands of a fallen world. If we do not control the flesh by the spirit in us, or rather with the help of the Holy Spirit, our being and our life will take its course according to the directions received not from God but from the world, or the desires of the flesh.
We must therefore purposefully treat our prayer and spiritual life as an integral part of the needs and task of our lives in this world. Equal to shopping, eating, working for a living, time with family. Actually, as if our spiritual life is more important than all of these activities.
Often, we pray for our earthly needs, but those are included in our prayer of higher tier, the one for that addresses the purposes of the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Our watchfulness is based on our placing the values of the kingdom of God as the frameworks from which we discern and judge things, people, and events, and on that basis – our prayer, so we do not fall into temptation, and consequently – sin.
We do not need a modern, relevant, or emerging church; we need a watchful and prayerful church. We do not need big congregations; we need prayerful assemblies where the truth of the Gospel and the Word of God is the foundational standard. But that starts with individually carving out time and effort to bring into our daily routine watchfulness and prayer.