Jesus spoke these words to His disciples when He was in Gethsemane, suffering the sorrow of death in His soul before any man laid hands on Him. Christ’s words to Peter, James and John are for us too. What did He tell them to do that they might not enter into temptation? He said, “Watch and pray.” Would you escape the tempter’s snare? Would you stand in faith? Would you overcome by faith in Christ crucified, risen and reigning? Jesus said, “Watch and pray.” Prayer is the believing soul breathing out its fears and needs and praise to God. Faith in Christ is God’s gift by which we know and rely on Christ crucified as all of our salvation. Faith moves us to come to God by Jesus’ blood and righteousness alone, never trusting what we are or what we have done. Faith teaches us never to hide, as Adam hid behind the trees when he heard the voice of God and knew he was naked. Faith puts Christ on, and comes to God clothed in His righteousness alone, trusting Him, forsaking all other trusts. “F.A.I.T.H: Forsaking All I Trust Him.” Faith looks to Jesus bearing our sins, cursed by God in our place, and takes God’s word in heart and conscience, and comes to Him, even, and especially, when the guilt of our sin-laden conscience would drive us from Him (Matt. 11:28-30; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 10:14-23). We cry to the Lord to save us according to His righteousness (Dan. 9:16; Rom. 3:24; Ps. 34:17), according to the propitiating blood of Christ that He received at His hand for chosen sinners. With the Psalmist we cry, “Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation” (Ps. 106:4).
Yet in these words of Christ, we have a preventive medicine, a shield and guard against temptation. Oh, how I need to avoid temptation! Experience has taught me over and again that when I am tempted, I fall. Therefore, I take this exhortation of Christ’s to my bosom as His promise that I can go to Him for grace to keep me from falling before I fall, to hold me up that I might be kept safe (Ps. 119:117).
Prayer is a wondrous thing (Php. 4:6-7). God is sovereign. He does His eternal will in every circumstance of our lives. He never changes. Yet He has told us to pray. We understand from this that God not only ordains the end He purposes, but the means by which He will accomplish that purpose. He determined to save His people by the death of His Son (Acts 2:23). And He has determined to give that salvation to them through faith (Eph. 2:8-9); faith which He gives; faith that sees Christ and is persuaded He is all to God for me, and all for me in all things, especially all in my salvation (Col. 2:9-10; 3:11; Isa. 12:2). And He has ordained that this God-given faith breathe out its poverty of soul to God in prayer (1 Sam. 2:1-10), and come to Him, looking to Christ at all times, depending on Him to deliver me from my own sin, from satan, from this world, from death, from the just condemnation of His law that my sins deserve, and to save me to the uttermost to the praise of the glory of His grace!
Oh, how I want a heart like my Savior’s! He prayed, “Thy will be done” (Matt. 6:42)! Let us therefore go to Him when we lie down, when we awake at midnight, when we rise up at morn, when we go along the way, that we might be delivered from temptation before it comes, delivered from the temptation we now feel, and delivered from all iniquity by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through this God-given faith in Him who was crucified to answer and fulfill God’s holy law. And may we plead for deliverance from this old man, which we received from Adam, our Adam-nature, this wretched man that I am (Rom. 7:24-25)! Pray to be kept from falling, and presented in Christ without fault before the presence of His glory (Jude 1:24; Ps. 94:17-18)!
We have no power against the enemy of our sin and satan, the world, death and the just condemnation our sins deserve (2 Chr. 20:12). All of our salvation from sin and all strength over our enemy is in our almighty Captain, who was crucified to satisfy God and fulfill the righteousness of God, and give that righteousness to us as our very own (Heb. 2:10; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:17; Jer. 23:6; 33:16; 1 Cor. 1:30)! He now sits on heaven’s throne (Heb. 8:1). He cannot fail (Isa. 42:4; Heb. 13:8). He has told us what we must do. “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” He has told us our flesh is weak indeed. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). We need His Spirit of grace at all times (Zech. 4:6). If Christ Himself prayed to be delivered from the trials He underwent in doing the will of God, how much more should we, who are but dust and ashes, cry to our God and Savior (Gen. 18:27)? This is His command and promise to His dear sheep, “Watch and pray.” We are not only weak, but ignorant. We don’t know what to pray as we ought (Rom. 8:26-27, 34). But as with every command, let us go to our God in prayer, asking Him for grace to do what He says we must do, to save us according to His will, according to His righteousness, according to our great need, according to His word (Hosea 13:9). He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6; Luke 18:1-8, 13-14). May God give us faith to do so!