“On reaching the place He said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’”
In the model prayer (Luke 11), Jesus taught His disciples to pray. He ended the prayer with ‘And lead us not into temptation.’ Here in Luke 22 it is just a few hours before Jesus would be betrayed by Judas, arrested, tried and murdered. He goes as usual to the Mount of Olives to pray and He encourages His disciples to pray to avoid temptation. It is something that they might fall into and something that they can avoid through prayer.
When Jesus comes back to them He finds them sleeping. He says, ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’ Again, temptation will come and it is something we fall into. Prayer is our defense.
Earlier in Luke 22 Jesus told Peter that Satan, that Tempter and Accuser, had asked to ‘sift him as wheat.’ Jesus says to him, ‘But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.’ Prayer is the defense for Jesus on behalf of Peter. Even though Jesus knows that he is going to fail… he will deny Christ three times before the rooster crows… still, Jesus continues to pray for Peter.
“And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Peter will turn back because he will have failed. He will have fallen into temptation and sin… but that is not the end! There is repentance and the forgiveness of sin available. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.
Temptation is something that I can easily fall into and prayer is the defense. I cannot sleep and pray simultaneously. Jesus says, ‘Get up and pray so that you don’t fall into temptation.’ Praying not to fall raises my awareness of temptation. This is good defense!
When I stumble off of a curb it’s because I didn’t realize that it was there. If I had known it was there, I would have walked differently. When I fall into temptation it’s usually a surprise. Praying allows me to see with spiritual eyes the curbs in my life. Through prayer I am able to connect with the One who wants to be my Comforter and Guide. Jesus, as seen in today’s passage, clearly does not want His followers to fall. Prayer – walking with Him everyday – is a powerful defense against what Satan would like to accomplish in my life.
As it’s been said, the best defense is a good offense! In the ‘armor of God’ (Ephesians 6) there is one offensive weapon: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. As I follow Jesus’ example (which was to quote Scripture in the face of temptation; Matthew 4) I, too, will be able to avoid sinning against God.
Hallowed be Your Name,
Your Kingdom come.
Give me each day my daily bread.
Forgive me my sins,
For I forgive everyone who sins against me.
And lead me not into temptation.