Blessed… Exhausted

He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? 41  Stay alert and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation. The spirit is eager, but the flesh is weak.” 42 A second time he went away and prayed, “My Father, if it’s not possible that this cup is taken away unless I drink it, then let it be what you want” (Matthew 26:40-42, Common English Bible).

Imagine it is Thanksgiving Day. You have just finished the stereotypical huge family meal. There is the turkey, green bean casserole, fluffy pink salad, rice dressing (you can have the cornbread dressing), cranberry sauce, rolls, and whatever else is part of your family’s traditional Thanksgiving meal. Then it is all followed up with a big slice of pecan pie (OK, if you really want it you can have pumpkin pie but I don’t understand why when there is pecan pie there!). Now, settle into the couch or a recliner and start watching a Thanksgiving Day football game. Go ahead! Stay awake! I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!

To stay awake it is going to have to be a really, really, really good football game. Even then, for most of us, staying awake after that huge Thanksgiving meal is just not possible. I have tried going out and walking. It just delays the inevitable. I am going to have a nap after my Thanksgiving meal. I can’t help it. It is going to happen.Wait! What am I saying?

Wait! What am I saying? It happens just about every Sunday afternoon. Football may or may not be what is on television. And, I can usually find a way to stay awake through the Texans game but either before or after, a nap is something that will almost always happen.

We are often critical of the disciples for falling asleep when Jesus wanted them to pray. I feel pretty certain they had really good intentions. I don’t think they went out there with him thinking, “I have in mind to really disappoint Jesus. When he asks me to pray, instead of doing as he asked, I think I will just curl up and have a nap.”

Here is a good question for you. Have you ever fallen asleep while praying? Come on. Be honest now. Besides, you aren’t lying to me, you are lying to yourself.

I have a tendency to think that if you truly haven’t the most likely explanation is, you don’t pray when you go to bed at night. At the very least you don’t allow yourself to get comfortable while you are praying.

As I think about the disciples that night, they had the perfect storm of falling asleep going. They had just finished a big meal. They had been out on a walk. They began a quiet, usually sedentary activity in prayer. The result became disciples who faded fast, fast asleep.

If we can’t manage to stay awake on Thanksgiving afternoon, why do we expect the disciples to be so much different than us? Jesus did have the same big meal, the same walk, and the same sedentary activity. But, Jesus was in a high-stress situation. As for the disciples, they didn’t realize enough of what was happening and about to happen to be in a state of stress.

I think the real key is, if we are to stay awake in prayer, we need to pick times when we are less tired. Additionally, maybe we really need to seek a posture of prayer where we aren’t quite so comfortable.

Maybe then, we will manage to stay awake and pray with Jesus.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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