Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prompt to Pray

Mark 14:37-38 (New International Version)
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

The days passed in a whirlwind of busyness. It seemed that there was always something calling for her attention from the moment she awoke in the morning, until she stumbled exhausted, to her bed at night. So busy was she that she actually forgot about eating. Oh, she intended to eat, and she did snatch little snacks from the shelf here and there, but although she thought longingly of having the luxury to sit and eat at length, and although she aimed to get up early enough to have a good meal at the start of the day, her increasing fatigue made it hard to wake up in time and each day she got up too late to eat.
She began to lose weight and without proper nourishment her energy level flagged. Her hair lost its lustre and her eyes grew dull. Soon, she thought, I will have to make time to eat.
Of course, this little story is highly unlikely. During two periods of high stress in my life, I did actually find it hard to eat, but not for long! Fortunately, our bodies are designed with persistent signals that alert us to the need for food. God also gifted us with incredibly sensitive taste buds, which can discriminate between, and enjoy, five distinct taste sensations that make the act of eating extremely pleasurable.
How different it is with our spirit, which also needs nourishment. Signals of spiritual hunger are more subtle, and often we don't recognize them for what they are and we soothe our aching spiritual void with other things instead of what we deeply crave and need; communion with God
And so our spirits waste away and we become spiritually weak; until we fall asleep. When people are asleep they don't hear the voices calling to them, or see what is going on around them--a war in which the stakes are high.
Feeding ourselves spiritually requires a conscious choice and effort, for it goes against our natural impulses to extremes of activity or laziness.
The reason that fasting is twinned as a discipline with prayer may be because we are acutely aware of physical hunger, but less so of spiritual hunger. Physical hunger is a useful prompt to pray.
Dear Lord, I want to grow in spiritual strength and vitality. You showed the way by your example of solitude and prayer. May my habits be patterned on yours.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 (New International Version)
6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8vBut since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


Joyful Fox said...

Thanks for the reminder to draw near to Him, to listen to His voice, to read His word, to draw nourishment from our communion with Him.

Oh how I lack right now. Bless you for this reminder.

Angcat said...

Hi Belinda,
I've just read this after a busy weekend at work.
This was a timely reminder, and I loved the analogy.
Thank you.