Gethsemane Part 3: Pray Against Temptation

Matthew 26:41 – Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus never had to pray for forgiveness since He didn’t sin, but that doesn’t mean He wasn’t tempted. All of us are tempted, but like Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days being constantly tempted by Satan, we don’t have to give in.

Too often we act out of our flesh or folly and then pray our apologies (which we should do!), but it is better do we pray preemptively, guarding our hearts against temptation and asking God for wisdom.

In Matthew 26:41, Jesus says, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We know that we have weak spots, places we drift away from God’s will. We all have different appetites. Sex, food, alcohol, money, anger, work, etc. We should be praying that God would strengthen us in those areas, help us satisfy those appetites in godly ways, and steer us away from people and places and thoughts that tempt us to satisfy them in sinful ways.

Praying in advance guards us against our flesh and folly. This pattern of offensive prayer, before the battle is lost, is commonly found in the book of Psalms. On page after page, offensive prayers are recorded. They are written by people in the crucible of life, fearful for their well-being, exhausted, under assault, and weary.

In these prayers, the people of God remind themselves of the power and might of God, and ways in the past when he delivered his people. Frequent examples include the day in which God crushed the oppressors in Egypt and delivered his people from slavery into freedom by the might of his hand.

These kind of offensive prayers are really what spiritual warfare is all about. In the middle of a battle for our life and soul, offensive prayer reminds us who our King is and invites him to strengthen us and defend us. Even though little kids kneeling at their bedside praying with their grandmother may not look like soldiers, they are in fact at war in the spiritual realm.

This is the kind of prayer the Lord Jesus is asking you to pray – offensive prayers against the flesh and folly in advance before the battle is lost. Therefore, it is helpful to be honest about the ways and times you are most vulnerable to the flesh and folly. Then, you can pray offensively in advance and war against your flesh and folly by the power of God’s Spirit like Jesus did.

1. What area(s) of your life are you weakest, most vulnerable, and easily tempted? Spend time today in prayer confessing those areas to God, asking forgiveness for ways in which you have fallen in these areas in the past.
2. Also, invite God the Spirit to help you practice self-control and self-discipline when these temptations arise.

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