Posted by: mikenicholsblog | June 24, 2012

don’t fall asleep

In talking to my brother yesterday, I found myself giving counsel and advice that was at best falling on deaf ears. To be honest, I was giving him true words, but from a distance. And since the difficult situation wasn’t mine, it was easy to wax eloquent about trusting God in the midst of his pain. It is fair to assume that my counsel didn’t go very far (he already knew all the right answers), but a bigger question for me is; do I really care that much anyway? Before you think less of me, remember that we are all faced with hurting people on a regular basis, and how do we respond? After some personal reading this morning, I was challenged with my weakness, and encouraged by my opportunity.

You know the scene of my reading, and you could probably teach a lesson on some of the nuggets from Gethsemane. Jesus went to spend time with the Father and asked Peter, James and John to “stay here and keep vigil with me.” He was in a moment of extreme sorrow, and wanted some care from his friends. Their actions remind me of how I can easily love and care for my brother (or anyone else), but fall woefully short of really helping. Look at the how Christ addressed Peter when he returned the first time from praying to the Father.

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”  Matthew 26:40-41 (MSG)

There is a part of me also that is ready for anything in God, and another part that is like that lazy old sleeping dog by the fire. How about you? Do you have any brothers or sisters or children that really need your care?  I believe that Christ left Peter, James and John to watch and pray for Him, but they fell asleep. It is so easy for me (and you) to care deeply about my brother or daughter or friends and then fall asleep on them. Quite frankly, the best help I can give anyone is to go to the perfect Counselor, but sometimes I get like that lazy old sleeping dog. Shame on me because I have experienced the joy of praying and seeing God do what only He can do. What better care can you and I give to those we love than to consistently intercede to the Father for them?

When I was being challenged by my great counsel and ineffective praying this morning, I remembered something I had read earlier this week? Oswald Chambers stated in My Utmost for His Highest these words … “The Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.” As a saved soul, the real business of your life is intercessory prayer. Whatever circumstances God may place you in, always pray immediately that His atonement may be recognized and as fully understood in the lives of others as it has been in yours. Pray for your friends now, and pray for those with whom you come in contact now.

God will use prayer for good in your own life, and certainly in the lives of those you pray for. Peter, James and John loved Christ and probably had deep regret for falling asleep at such a dramatic moment in His life. And I have deep regret when I give great counsel and figuratively fall asleep on those who need me to pray. You and I can’t do anything about failing to pray yesterday, but now is our time. There is someone right now who needs you to intercede to the Father for them. Will you?

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