Watch and Pray

Posted on 06/11/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT:

If God has been good to you, stand to your feet and let's worship him together! And since God has been good to all of us, whether we realize it or not, let's all stand up in honor of the King.

Jesus said "Where two or more are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." We know Jesus is here through his Holy Spirit, and we honor you Lord, for you are worthy of all the love we can lavish upon you!

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, and enter his courts with praise!



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I WILL ENTER HIS GATES

I will enter your gates
with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter your courts with praise
I will say this is the day
that the Lord has made
I will rejoice for you have made me glad!

You have made me glad
You have made me glad
I will rejoice for
You have made me glad!



MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord
for he is worthy to be praised
Shout with the spirit, clap with your hand
our God is worthy to be praised!

Hallelujah, our God is worthy to be praised
Hallelujah, our God is worthy to be praised




BLESSED BE THE NAME

Blessed be the name of the Lord
He is worthy to be praised and adored
So we lift up holy hands in one accord

Singing blessed be the name,
blessed be the name,
blessed be the name of the Lord!




EVERY WORD OF GOD

Every word of God is tried and true
He is a shield to those who put their trust in him
Do you know his name, or the name of his Son?
Every word of God is tried and true!

Who has ascended into heaven?
Who has descended, come to set us free?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
Do you know his name, or the name of his Son?




REJOICE FOR THE STEPS

Rejoice for the steps
of a righteous man,
They are ordered of God,
They are ordered of God

Rejoice for the steps
of a righteous man,
They are ordered of God.

In the time of trouble,
God will sustain him
God will preserve him
God will uphold him

In the time of trouble,
God will lift him up
So rejoice for your steps
are ordered of God




Thank you Jesus for loving us, for opening your arms to us no matter what we've done or where we've been. You promised to forgive us the moment we ask, and to take us into your arms, make us clean and brand new, and give us eternal life as a son or a daughter of the King.

You may all be seated, as we go to the Word of the Lord.

Our Scripture for today is found in Matthew chapter 26, verse 41, which says,

"Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)

Once a minister became aware that there were certain problems in his church. He prayed about how to handle the problems, and for God to show him why those problems arose.

One Sunday morning, although he had stayed up all night seeking God for the message, he had no word to bring the congregation.

Then a question came to mind.

He said to the congregation, "Last week, if you prayed every single day for any length of time, not counting meal times, and not counting 'chattering' to the Lord as you go about your other business, raise your hand."

Out of the over 1,000 people present, only a few, perhaps less than 1%, raised their hands.

"This morning," the minister concluded, "we are going to talk about prayer."



~The Spirit is Willing~

The following account can be found in the book of Matthew, chapter 26.

The night Jesus was going to be betrayed and taken away to be condemned and crucified, he had what is commonly called the "Last Supper" with the twelve disciples.

After Judas had left them, Jesus took the eleven disciples to the mount of Olives.

He told them he would go pray, and they should wait. He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.

He told them his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death, and they should tarry and watch, while he went further on to pray alone.

After he cried out to the Father that if it be possible, that cup would pass from him, but not his will but God's be done, he came back to the three disciples and found them sleeping.

He said, "What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Jesus then went again to pray, and upon returning, found them sleeping once again.

If they had watched and prayed as Jesus had commanded them, would Peter have denied Jesus later that night?

"Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

There is a time coming upon the earth of great trials and tribulations. Just like Peter, we may say with great conviction that we would NEVER deny Jesus! Even if we have to DIE with him, yet we will never deny him!

And yet Peter DID deny Jesus just a short time later; not once, not twice, but three times.

If only Peter had watched and prayed, he would not have entered into temptation. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak.

The disciples heard Jesus warn them time and time again. He told them he was going to be delivered into the hands of sinners, who would crucify him. Yet although they heard the words with their ears, they did not believe with their hearts that it would happen tonight.

They were caught unprepared. And Peter did what he vowed that, even in the face of death, he would never do.

The voices of those who cry out to us in the highways and byways continue to increase in number.

"The end times are upon us!" they declare, and yet we live our lives just as we always have, as if we simply don't believe tonight is the night.

Perhaps we believe that when times get really bad, and Christians must go into hiding for fear of their lives, THEN we will seek God and get serious about pursuing his presence, at the expense of our own comfort and time.

Yet that night came upon the disciples unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

When Judas said, "Hail, master!" and betrayed Jesus with a kiss, one of the disciples cut off the high priest's servant's ear, which was an act of the flesh, since they did not know what to do. And then they all fled and left Jesus alone with his enemies.

"Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."


There is coming a time when it will be too late to seek the Lord, if we have not been seeking him already.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near." (Isaiah 55:6)

In Matthew chapter 26, Jesus told his disciples to watch with him. He then clarified his command and told them to watch and pray that they do not fall into temptation.

After telling them to watch, he corrected them for falling asleep, and repeated his command, telling them to watch and pray.

In the chapter before this took place, Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins:

"The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went to meet the bridegroom.

"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

"They who were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

"But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

"While the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

"And at midnight someone cried out, 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet him!'"

"Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

"And the foolish said unto the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.'

"But the wise answered, saying, 'We cannot, for there may be not enough for us and you: but go rather to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.'

"And while they went out to buy, the bridegroom came; and they who were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

"Afterward the other virgins came, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.'

"But he answered and said, 'Truly I say unto you, I do not know you.'

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour the Son of man will come."


The moral of this story was, "Watch!" And in the very next chapter, he repeated this order: "Watch!" Yet they did not watch and pray. And they all fled. And even after Peter worked up the courage to go see what became of Jesus, he denied three times that he even knew him.


We cannot wait until wickedness rules in the night. Then it will be too late to begin seeking God for the oil we need to keep our lights burning.

It is now, in the daytime, while we are free to work, to play, to feed our flesh, or to pray, that we need to carefully evaluate our daily lives and change them according to the Word of the Lord.

"Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Every time we feed our fleshly nature, it becomes a little stronger.

Most of us feed our flesh and neglect our spirit, so that when trials and temptations come, we make wrong choices and we fall.

Many of us feed both our flesh and our spirit, so that the battle rages endlessly; sometimes our spirit wins, but at least as often our flesh wins, and there is no rest.

Yet there are a few of God's children who forsake the pursuit of earthly pleasures, daily taking up their cross and following Jesus, who walk according to the Spirit and not after the flesh; who have set themselves against any friendship with the world and its ways, and instead seek after God with their whole hearts, laying aside the pursuit of other things.

Many become offended and feel cheated if they are asked to sacrifice any of their other pursuits for the Kingdom of God.

Just as the rich young ruler walked away sorrowful because he was not willing to give up his earthly riches to follow Jesus, so it is hard for us, rich in comforts and worldly pleasures, to lay them down and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

It's not a life of drugery, void of any pleasure or happiness that God is asking of us. Rather, it is a life of Godly pleasures and true happiness, and a life of Kingdom priorities:

God must be first and central. At his slightest command, all else must come to an end if need be to follow carefully after him.


~The Challenge~

I challenge you to take some time right now. Set aside everything else you would be doing at this time, for as long as it takes.

Turn off any music or television. Set aside this time to be still and quiet before the Lord.

First, just turn your attention on Jesus. Incline your ear to his voice. Set your heart to seek after the Lord. Ask him to speak into your spirit, and show you his will and his ways.

In this attitude of prayer, take inventory of your life.

Get several sheets of paper and a pen. We'll wait just a moment for you to get these.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Write a title at the top of each paper.

On one, write "Things That Please God:"
On another, write "Things That Would Please God:"
On another, write "Things That Do Not Please God:"
On the final sheet of paper, write "Plan of Action:"

Since you will need time to really search your heart and think about these things, we won't spend much time on each. Quickly write down the first things that come to your mind, then go back to your lists later when you have time alone.

Go to your paper titled "Things That Please God."

What things in your life are truly pleasing to God? Write these things down.



Now go to your paper titled "Things That Would Please God."

What things would please God if you added them to your life? Write these things down.


Now turn to your paper titled, "Things That Do Not Please God."

What things in your life do not please God? Write these things down.


Finally, turn to your paper titled, "Plan of Action."

How do you spend your time? What can you change so that you can begin watching and praying, strengthening your spirit and not your flesh?

Studying God's Word daily and seeking his face daily, not just as a ritual, but from the depths of your heart, are the very basics of the Christian life. No matter what it takes to make these things an intrigal part of every day, this is exactly what you must do.

The pursuit of God's presence should become that around which everything else in your day revolves.

At first, the flesh will rebel. Your mind may be filled with endless arguments, distractions, and doubts. But the fleshly, carnal nature is fighting for its life and its control over you. (This nature is what separates us from God, and will cause us to bow to temptation under fire, regardless of our determination to do otherwise.)

It is through a watchful life of prayer that we receive strength from God to overcome temptation.

We are to watch over our heart with all diligence, keeping the poison of the world far from us. Half of true, Scriptural religion is to not allow even one little spot of the world into our hearts, our lives, our inner thoughts and meditations; feeding not on that which entertains the fleshly nature, but on that which feeds and strengthens the spirit man, namely, the Word of God.

And in this spirit of watchfulness, we must pray.

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, I will pray and cry aloud: and he will hear my voice." (Psalm 55:17)

Take this message to heart; write down your inventory, those things in your life that please God, those things that should be in your life that please God, and those things that are in your life that don't please God that you must remove; and then take immediate action.

We are coming quickly upon that final hour. The night is coming upon us. The time for preparation is nearing its end. We must seek the Lord while he may be found.

"Watch and pray, that you do not fall into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."



I will ask anyone here on the ministry team to come stand at the front. In a few minutes we will go next door for our time of fellowship, so please nobody leave yet.

But for a few minutes we're going to get serious with God. That's why we're here, and that's what this altar is for.

If you're ready to get serious with God, if you're willing to make some changes in your life, if you're ready to start watching and praying, filling your lamps with oil now before the night comes and it is too late, then come to the front.

You can kneel and pray alone, or instant message a minister to pray with you.

If you're ready to get serious with God, come up front now.