Sleeping or praying?
Before his arrest Jesus spent time praying.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
While he was praying his disciples were sleeping even though he had told them to pray so they would not be tempted. When he was arrested most of them fled. Peter followed at a distance but before the night was over denied three times that he knew Jesus. Perhaps they would have showed more courage if they had been praying instead of sleeping.
They weren’t the first ones in the Bible to yield to temptation because they slept instead of praying. You are probably familiar with the story of David and Bathsheba. David saw Bathsheba bathing, committed adultery with her, and tried to cover up his sin by having her husband killed when she became pregnant. But did any of you notice what he was doing just before he first saw her?
It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.
2 Samuel 11:2
It was late afternoon and David had just risen from his couch, which meant he was sleeping during the day. If he had been praying it is likely that his mind would have been occupied with God and when he saw the woman he would have turned away and not fallen into sin. He would not have committed adultery and murder, and would have escaped the personal tragedies that marked the rest of his life.
We all have to sleep. If we can’t get enough sleep at night we might even have to sleep during the day. But if we want to resist temptation we need to make sure we don’t sleep when we should be praying.