Daily Devotion 28 August 2020
Luke 22:39-45 ‘Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives’
39 Jesus left the city and went, as he usually did, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples went with him. 40 When he arrived at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. 42 “Father,” he said, “if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 Rising from his prayer, he went back to the disciples and found them asleep, worn out by their grief. 46 He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
Henfield, where I used to live, was known for its excellent pet shop. One day, in the village High Street, I was walking behind a lady with a very large dog. As she walked purposefully past the pet shop, she was suddenly, ignominiously and precipitately, hauled inside by her dog.
Our temptations can be like that dog. All is going well, we have the best intentions in the world, and suddenly we’re hijacked. Temptation overcomes us and hauls us right off the straight and narrow. Perhaps there’s something we know we shouldn’t do, or something we know we ought to do but would rather not, and – just this once – it really won’t matter, will it? And suddenly, we’ve fallen again. It makes no difference that it’s just some little thing. It’s as much a sin as the worst thing you can think of.
Temptation comes to us all. Even Jesus was tempted during his lifetime and as the gospel passage above shows, when he was tempted it could be extremely strong and painful. But he never gave in. It’s not temptation that’s wrong, but yielding to it. And when we give in once, yielding the next time doesn’t feel so bad, our conscience gets progressively less sensitive.
Jesus’s defense against temptation was his closeness to God and his constant communication with God in prayer. That is our best defense too. God can and will help us. Whenever we’re assailed by temptation we must ask for God’s help to overcome it. With his help it is possible to resist even the most strong and powerful temptations. We just have to ask God’s help and then let him give us the strength to stand firm.
Lord Jesus, we turn with confidence to you,
knowing that you were tempted in all respects as we are, yet without sin.
Give us your help that we may obtain victory over our temptations.
We are ashamed that we have so little self-control and
that we often fall at the same hurdles, time after time.
Teach us to remember the promise that
those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
May we wait upon you and be made strong.
We ask it in your name and for your sake.
Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
Image freely available online.
Prayer by Frank Colquhoun, based on a prayer of Peter Marshall.
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