Despite their close association with Jesus, the twelve disciples were not models of spiritual maturity. On the contrary—it’s hard to read many New Testament passages without rolling our eyes at their short-sightedness or wondering how they could possibly have failed to grasp Jesus’ teachings.
It is, of course, unfair to judge the disciples from our vantage point two thousand years later. If we were in their position, following a radical teacher whose teachings routinely overturned their long-held religious beliefs, we’d make the same mistakes they did. But it’s still instructive to examine the disciples’ weaknesses, and to ask ourselves if we are doing any better today. That’s what this devotional from Today does:
Perhaps more than anything, the disciples were lacking in prayer. They often were not able to act wisely when there was a crisis. When Jesus needed them to keep watch and pray while he searched out the Fatherâ€™s will that night on the Mount of Olives, he found them asleep. How frustrating this must have been for Jesus when he was in anguish!
Jesus has shown us how important a life of prayer is. In prayer he connected with his Father in heaven, finding renewed energy and courage to keep on with his mission. And on this night, as Jesus prayed before his arrest and crucifixion, he needed the Fatherâ€™s assurance that his death on the cross was the only way to save us from our sins. We needed Jesus to do this for us, and he found the strength and the will to do it by connecting with God through prayer.
Many of the disciples’ stumbling points can be traced back to this one thing: a lack of prayer. How about you—is prayer a central part of your everyday life, informing your decisions and guiding your actions? If you had been on the Mount of Olives that night, would Jesus have found you deep in prayer… or dozing off with the disciples?