“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41
I think it was my second meal in the cafeteria at college when, upon opening my eyes after praying over lunch, I found my entire meal had disappeared from the table. It was my freshman year at a Christian college and I was still trying to learn the ropes of exactly where in the cafeteria to sit and not look like a nerd. Obviously, I was caught off guard while everyone sitting nearby acted as though nothing were wrong. After looking goofy for a minute or two some guy further down the table produced my tray of food and reminded me to “watch” and pray (ruck, ruck). And so I was reminded to pay attention.
Paying attention – okay, so if we have to pay attention, how much does it cost? The answer? Not nearly as much as not paying attention. Increasing our spiritual attention span is just part of following Jesus and is the primary purpose of prayer. Prayer is not so much what we say or ask for, but rather what the Bible refers to as “waiting on the Lord.” We aren’t told to wait because He is slow, but because if we aren’t paying attention to His thoughts and ways in our day-to-day lives, it is easy to miss the miracle of His presence and action in our circumstance. In short, He wants to partner with us, and so if we are not paying attention, things slow down spiritually for us.
With all of this talk about paying attention and possibly missing what God is doing, it might seem like there is cause for anxiety; I assure you there is not. The truth is that the Holy Spirit makes His presence and action known to anyone who is watching. Actually, it is hard to miss, but you will need to pay attention. The result of not paying attention is often felt in missed opportunities, damaged relationships and challenging circumstances. Most all of us get caught up in things that distract us and steal our attention, and so the nudge from the Matthew 26:14 serves to bring us back to an awareness that God is here, in the middle of our circumstances, right now…and He wants us to see and act right along with Him so that His will may be done in earth as it is in heaven.
We live in challenging times, to say the least, and the cost of not paying attention is more than any of us can afford.
Grateful For Grace,
Pastor Ken Shelton