“Watch and Pray” Matthew 26:36-46
“36) Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37) And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38) Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”” Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭36‬-‭38‬
Leaving the upper room, Jesus led His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. This story is included in all four Gospels. The Garden was located on the Mount of Olives most likely overlooking Jerusalem.
The word “Gethsemane” is made up of two Hebrew words signifying “an olive press.” The name is fitting, because it was here Jesus was squeezed in agony to the point that His sweat became drops of blood. Luke records that two angels appeared attempting to strengthen Him. (See Luke 22:43-44) He was indeed in an olive press of agony in this deep moment of intercession.
He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and asked them to “keep watch.” We are here introduced to a kind of intercession referred to as “watching.” It has in it the idea of forsaking sleep to be devoted to intense prayer. During this time, the prayer warrior is to be on “red alert” in the spiritual realm. They are standing in the gap during intense times of unseen cosmic battle in the spiritual realm.
With this story, the prayer warriors quiver is complete with three kinds of fasting mentioned in the Bible. The first and most common kind of fasting is developed in Isaiah 58:5-12. This is forsaking food for a period of time for devoted prayer. The second is briefly mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:5. This is a focused time of forsaking sexual intimacy in marriage for a period of time for devoted prayer. The third kind of fasting is mention here in the story of Gethsemane. Watching is forsaking sleep for a devoted time of prayer.
The common denominator in each of these disciplines is the denial of a fleshly appetite to focus on the spirit. Notice the small letter on the word “spirit” to distinguish the human spirit. God wants every Christian to become mighty in spirit. It is here, in the inner man that Spirit of God bonds with the spirit of man for strength and power. (Review Ephesians 3:14-19)
The reader of this story in Gethsemane is left lamenting over the fact that Jesus twice returned and found His disciples sleeping. What was the problem? In verse 41, Jesus pointed out that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
The contrast between these same men here in the Garden and their prayer lives in Acts 4:29-31 is astounding. I implore you to research and discover the secret that turned these carnal and sleeping disciples into mighty prayer warriors for the kingdom!
My prayer is that God wakes up the sleeping church of our day as well. As the end times come upon us, we are experiencing greatly intensified cosmic battles. Something highly unusual is unfolding before our very eyes. These are days God is again calling His people to “watch and pray” with keen discernment, focus and alertness.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global