Delivered on Aug 22, 1943 at Centerline Baptist Church
We have been trying to place before you during the last three weeks the value and power of prayer. We have looked at the pattern of prevailing prayer. Last week we saw the power of agonizing prayer. There is no basis for doubt in prayer – God has said it, and that should settle it. Prayer answers should be as positive as life itself. Last week we saw a praying, powerful church. Now we shall look at sleeping, prayerless, disciples. The scene is the garden of Gethsemane. The time: The evening before the crucifixion. The events leading up to this setting were stupendous. They had just come from the upper room where the Lord had instituted the Lord’s supper. There he had again warned them of the coming persecution and his death. As he had handed them the cup he had said, “This is my blood which is shed for you.” Then he had taken the bread and said, “This is my body which is broken for you.” Then, “As oft as ye eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye do show forth my death until I come.” Then he led them out into the night and into the garden and there he confessed his agony and said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” That tremendous events were to take place was certain. To the very Son of God himself they were so tremendous that he must spend time in prayer to the Father, but the poor, stumbling, failing disciples, slept. In these prayerless disciples we see three lessons and I pray that they might be so impressed upon you that you will never forget them.
I. IT IS THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
Praying is one of the hardest things to do. You’ll find that you can find time for everything else but prayer. Prayer takes time, energy, and pains. The greatest men of the world have been men who lived a great prayer life. Not just spending a few minutes each day in prayer, but spending hours upon hours until God heard and answered. Such prayer as this carries with it the greatest blessings that God can bestow upon man.
The lack of prayer and also lack of power can be attributed to laziness on your part and following the path of least resistance. It is not that you don’t want the power and blessings and results that go with prayer; but it is simply that you don’t want to pay the price. So with these disciples… their spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. As a Christian you want to see this church grow, you want to see souls saved, you want unsaved husbands saved, but alas the weakness of the flesh is too great and so you stay away from prayer meetings; neither do you spend time at home. The day of fasting and prayer that has been called is not expected to be a day of ease. It will mean you will have to forsake your dinner and the pangs of pain may creep into your stomach. The knees are going to ache from being on the hard floor so much. The joints of the legs are going to stiffen. But to those who dare to come out and claim the promises of God, there will be the greatest blessings of God upon you. Oh, I know you can take the path of least resistance and make all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t be here. Perhaps some relatives are coming over – but you’ve known about this for a month and you could ask them to come the following Sunday. Sure the children need to have something to eat, but you can to home and get them something and then hasten back. Before anything can be accomplished for Christ, it must be proceeded in prayer. Before Christ entered upon His ministry He spent forty days in fasting and prayer in the wilderness. Before He chose His twelve disciples, we read, “And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” When Saul and Barnabas were separated unto the task that God had for them they did so in prayer. (Acts 13:3) One of the marks of a Christian is that they pray. (Acts 9:11) May it not be said of you that “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” Determine by the grace and for the glory of God that you will overcome the weak flesh.
II. IT IS THE PATH OF LURKING TEMPTATIONS
Prayer will keep you from temptations. “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” Many Christians are failing in their Christian life and are constantly falling into sin because they do not take everything to God in prayer. “Casting all your cares upon Him for He careth for you.”
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.
Oh the pity of it all; instead of victors, victims. Look at these same disciples just a short time afterward (Matt. 26:56, and Peter 26:58). Peter and all of the disciples could have escaped this shameful recording if they had spent the hours in prayer that Christ did. (Luke 22:32)
III. IT IS THE PATH OF LOST OPPORTUNITY
“Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Beloved, are you guilty of betraying Jesus Christ? Are you giving Him over into the hands of sinners. Someone has said that, “The devil trembles when he sees the weakest child of God on his knees.” This is not a time of sleeping, but a time of labor. Work for the night is coming when man works no more. Redeeming the time for the days are evil. Sleep on now: Those unsaved husbands have gone to an eternal hell. Sleep on now: Those boys and girls who you could have led to Christ are in the devil’s hands. That church which could have been such a great power in the community, all lost. Those disciples would have given anything in the days to follow if they had only spent that time in prayer instead of sleep. AH, BUT SLEEP ON NOW, the opportunity is lost. These disciples learned their lesson, but at a great cost – may YOU profit by it. Acts 1:14.
SLEEP ON NOW
Sleep on now
The day of conflict is o’re,
Sleep on now
Your safe on eternities shore.
Sleep on now
Your hour on earth is done
Sleep on now
There’s a task left – that was never begun.
Sleep on now
But there’s a soul crying out in hell:
“God curse the sleeper
That pretended to be
A child of thine, but
Never prayed for me.
He could have warned me
Of this awful place
He could have pleaded
And sought Thy face,
But prayer seemed such a waste of time
He lived his life; I lived mine.
And now; O now it is to late,
My heart is only filled with hate
For one who had so much to do
He couldn’t spare the time
To pray for me to you.
Sleep on now! Sleep on.”
By Kenneth G. Farnsworth
August 21, 1943