I'm convinced that if Jesus took his disciples to pray today, he would come back to find them awake...and documenting the event on Instagram #tryingtostayawake.
Jesus is in anguish. His earthly journey nearing its end and the reality of the imminent, unspeakable loss sinking in, Jesus invites his disciples to "watch and pray". To simply be with him in his hour of greatest need. This tenderness and vulnerability amazes me. And how do they respond?
"And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping." Matthew 26:40
Photo Credit: Paul Lew
Talk about missed opportunity and very low emotional intelligence. Jesus looks them in eyes and tells them he is so distraught that he feels he might die of it. And this isn't motivation enough to participate in presence and prayer. Not even two more pleas from an increasingly anguished Lord can jar them into even a half-hearted response. How foolish and lazy are these men?
Imagine taking a walk with Jesus on that night. The evening has already been quite eventful. A tense dinner, with Jesus accusing one of you of betrayal, a direct rebuttal of Peter and some cryptic references to death and blood. When you arrive at the olive grove, Jesus asks most of the group to stop and he continues on with you, Peter, James and John (which, lets face it, makes you feel pretty proud). He tells you he's full of anguish and asks you to sit while he goes to pray. For an hour.
If this is 2013, what happens in that hour? Maybe you circle up, close your eyes and pray out loud for fifteen minutes. Then Peter decides to look for a verse on his Bible App or John's phone vibrates as a text comes in. Maybe its Judas explaining where he went--I should check that. Now its acceptable to get out your phone and before you know it, the four of you are checking in on Facebook and tweeting about the bizarre events of the night. "spending time with Jesus in the grove #innercircle #creepynoises #JudasisMIA"
How foolish and lazy am I!
I've been discussing prayer with God for a number of years now. That's a blog for another time, but in the last few months he's not only told me to pray more, he's drawn my heart to desire it. Only one problem. There's limited space in my life for prayer.
I now think in "social media"--imagining catchy captions for even mundane happenings. This in itself is not wrong. But I find that it often takes me out of the present moment and company and directs the focus to me. When I have a moment to spare in a day (at a stop light, for instance), I can often be found checking my phone. I don't respond immediately to most emails or texts, but as the number of unread texts, emails and other alerts grows, my anxiety grows with it.
And then I read this:
"The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray." I Peter 4:7 It sounds suspiciously like Jesus' words in the garden: " “Couldn’t you ... keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matt 26:40b-41.
What to do, what to do?
I'm not giving up social media or my smartphone. But I am going to have to work more diligently to watch and pray. To be alert because the end of all things is near and Jesus has asked me to pray. And that will have to involve some more disciplining of my time and my mind around all distractions--not just my Apple products.
But hear this again--Jesus has walked with us and clearly asked us to be with him and to pray. I don't want to be found with my eyes on my phone.
Does social media ever interfere with your intimacy with Jesus? Have you set any helpful boundaries around social media? I'd love to hear what works for you!
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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