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To Pray or Sleep?

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Jesus praying in the garden after the Last Supper, while the disciples sleep, by Andrea Mantegna c. 1460 (en.wikipedia.org)

And He came to his disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ” So you men could not keep watch with me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation, the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40 -41

(Voice of the Persecuted) Many of us have often read these scriptures. At the time when the Lord Jesus needed his three closest friends to pray for him, these disciples exhausted from sorrow and found sleeping. One can only imagine that Jesus was grieved much in his heart. At the time when Jesus was about to go to the cross and lay down his life for us—at the time when Jesus was about to carry His cross to Calvary, so that we might have redemption in Him—his three closest friends were sleeping instead of watching and praying for him.

Our brothers and sisters in restricted nations are carrying the cross for Jesus. Many times in their heart felt pleas, they ask, “Please remember us in prayer, please do not forget us. Pray we will endure the afflictions and persecutions. Please pray that we will never deny our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of our persecutions.”

These brothers and sisters don’t even ask for an hour of prayer. They would be so encouraged if we’d give only 5 minutes of our time to remember them.  Yet are we hearing their pleas, or is the church like the disciples, found sleeping?

My brothers and sisters, this is our family. We cannot let this part of the body go gangrene. We need to pray life in their walk with Christ. We need to pray for our persecuted brethren and pray often.

As I reflect on these verses, I see another benefit of praying for the persecuted church. Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray that they will not enter into temptation. What does it say to us as we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.  Is it possible that as we focus on praying for them, we our selves are saved from temptation?

If we’re truly interceding for the persecuted church, then as the old writers would say, our minds are kept from folly.  To put it in more modern language, our minds would be kept from the foolishness of sin, as we focus on the sufferings of our brothers and sisters endure for Christ in persecuted lands.

1st Peter 4:1 tells us, he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. I would also say that he who prays for the persecuted Church will deter himself from temptation. It is hard for me to think about the temptations of sin when I’m praying for them.

Let us not be slumbering, but let us watch and pray for our suffering brethren around the world.  Let us pray for those who are carrying the cross for Jesus. May the persecuted not ask, indeed let Jesus not ask us, “Could you not keep watch with us for 5 minutes?”

Your brother in Christ,

Blaine Scogin

Serving Jesus as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch

Ephesians 6:18

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