Friday, March 09, 2007

Just an hour

Today's New Testament reading is from Mark 14, from the Last Supper to the arrest in Gethsemane. You may recall that Jesus takes Peter, James and John aside with him and prays, in great distress.
37Then 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? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Mark 14.37-38
Jesus makes it sound easy, doesn't he? "Couldn't you stay awake for an hour?"

Sure, but they've had the Passover meal, including what I assume to be a nontrivial amount of wine. Big meal with wine, late at night... I think it would be hard to stay awake. I find it hard enough to stay focused praying for an hour without something written in front of me; these guys were watching, maybe not even praying.

So, sitting still, staying awake, praying or meditating -- it's not just sleep-deprived 21st-century man that finds this difficult. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Philip Yancey says so, too:
When I hear of people who spend an hour a day meditating, I wonder how they do it. I strain to spend fifteen minutes, and anything longer tends to degenerate into distraction and lapses of concentration.
Philip Yancey
Prayer — Does it Make any Difference?
(Zondervan, 2006), p.158
How do we address this weakness of the flesh? I guess it's with training, and the Apostle Paul will have something to say about that later.

(added Yancey's quote 3/11)

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