Jesus clearly put great emphasis on the importance of prayer throughout his ministry.
The one thing I pray about most often is my failure to resist temptation. By temptation I simply mean, giving into those things, those life long habits and pleasures, that I know are bad for me. These are things I realise now, as a new Christian, are sinful. Many non-Christians have a really hard time understanding what is so bad about these habits. It is especially hard for them when they don’t seem to be particularly criminal, like drinking excessive alcohol or sex outside marriage or over indulging in junk food.
In the passage below, Jesus is almost pleading with his disciples to pray that they won’t give in to temptation because he knew that inevitably, temptation would overcome them. Jesus knew they would doubt their faith and everything he had taught them in the hours and days after his arrest.
Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.
At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. “why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
My goal today, as it is everyday, is to overcome the temptations that I will encounter. The issue isn’t really with the little sins themselves. But it is the sheer number of them. Sin is cumulative. When you make the mistake of judging the relative seriousness of one sin against another, you allow yourself to sin many times a day. Then at the end of the day you say, “Well, at least I didn’t murder anyone.” or “it’s not as if I robbed a bank or anything”. But who are we to say that murder is a worse sin than drinking too much of an evening. What is wrong is wrong. Ten little sins are still ten sins. Just because you avoided the temptation to commit one big sin, doesn’t cancel out the ten little ones. That is why I pray most often that I will not give in to temptation. The more I allow myself the little sins, the more likely it is that they will gradually get bigger. Then one day I might abandon my faith altogether and just satisfy myself with all the little self gratifying sins. There will always ten little sins waiting to test your faith everyday.
Judges 4:1-5:31, Luke 22:35-53, Psalms 94:1-23, Proverbs 14:3-4