When God Needs To Pray

When God Needs to Pray

Matthew 26:31-35

Dr. Jim Denison

Botox is all the rage these days. Botulinum toxin is an injection which removes lines and wrinkles from the face. At $300 to $1,000 a shot, it is the most popular cosmetic procedure in America. A “face-life in a bottle,” one doctor calls it. We will apparently do anything to look better than we really do.

Physically, and spiritually. I’m good at hiding the wrinkles on my soul, and so are you. What secret are you glad we don’t know? What secret shame or pain in your past still bothers you? What sin or failure do you constantly battle and wish you could defeat? What wrinkles on your soul are you trying to hide today?

This Easter season, we’re seeking ways to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. On Wednesday of Holy Week, Jesus showed us the key to victory over spiritual failure, frustration and defeat. On Thursday his disciples showed us that we each need that key today.

Let’s learn how to defeat temptation and failure before they come, and when they arrive.

Expect the crisis of faith

We’re now to Wednesday and Thursday of Holy Week.

On Wednesday Jesus did nothing which is recorded in the Scriptures. In a moment we’ll discover why that’s so, and why we each need Silent Wednesdays for our souls.

On Thursday Jesus gathered with his close friends for one last meal together, the Lord’s Supper as we know it. This night, Judas left the band to betray our Lord. Jesus and his disciples retreated to the Mount of Olives, and from there to the Garden of Gethsemane. Along the way the events of our text occurred.

“Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me'” (v. 31).

“You will all”—plural, every disciple. From Jesus’ best friend to his weakest disciple. We will all face crisis in life.

“Fall away” in the Greek means to be caught in a trap. The world is waiting to trap us. Satan is a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And lions only roar when they’re attacking.

“This very night”—the trap is always closer than you think. The lion is in the bushes just behind you.

“Because of me”—the enemy hates Jesus, so he hates us. He will tempt us and trap us because we belong to Jesus. Don’t think that your Christian faith will keep you from temptation. It’s the reason you are tempted.

“But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee” (v. 32).

“After I have risen”—Jesus is still in charge of life and death, of this world and the next.

“I will go ahead of you into Galilee”—even though you forsake me, I will not forsake you. My love for you is unconditional and absolute. No matter what failures you have committed or will commit, I will never fail you.

Now comes Peter’s proud reply: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (v. 33).

“If all fall away” is a first class conditional in the Greek, expressing the reality of the situation. In other words, Peter is saying, “They will all fall away on account of you.” But “I never will.” “I” is emphatic in the Greek: “I myself, I especially will never fail you.”

So Jesus must warn him: “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (v. 34). Peter promised that he would die before doing so. All the other disciples said the same. All were wrong.

Expect the crisis of faith. If it came to Jesus’ followers then, it will come to us today. No one is immune. Not Jesus. Not us.

Seek God privately, before the crisis comes

But when the crisis came, Jesus did not fail. Even though it meant the horrors of crucifixion. And even worse: his first separation from his Father since eternity began and time was created. Yet he did not falter or fail.

Why not? What was his key to success over temptation, fear, and defeat?

The answer is Silent Wednesday, and all the Silent Wednesdays before it. On Wednesday of Holy Week, Jesus did nothing which is recorded in God’s word. So what occupied his day? From his known activities across the week, we can assume these facts.

Jesus was resting with friends in Bethany: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, his disciples. He needed friends to support him before the crisis came, as we do.

Before the crisis comes, get with those you trust. Pray for each other, support each other, hold each other accountable to God’s will and purpose for your lives. Redwood trees stand for centuries because their roots are intertwined. A coal left alone goes out. So does a soul.

Jesus was together with his friends, and he was alone with his Father. As he regularly was. Watch his pattern: Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed;” Mark 6:46: “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray;” Luke 5:16: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed;” Luke 6:12: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God;” Luke 9:18: “Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him;” Luke 22:41: “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed.”

Before the crisis of Thursday came the preparations of Wednesday. We must seek God before we think we need him. There will not be less wind in our sails, so we need more sails for the wind. If we wait until the temptation comes, the crisis hits, the world tumbles in, it may be too late.

So, how long since you’ve spent a Silent Wednesday? Are you ready for Temptation Thursday? Are you praying for your friends, and they for you? Is your soul right with your Father?