“And when he rose from prayer, he came to the
disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow…”—Luke 22:45 (ESV)
An average sermon on this
passage goes like this: “You need to listen closely to what Jesus is saying,
delight in prayer.” Here is another one: “Let us not give Satan what he wants …
let us stay awake in prayer so that we accomplish the mission of reaching this
world for Christ.”
These statements above are
worthy goals, that’s granted. They focus on making us better by helping us pray
better. That is dangerous. Why? Any theology that ‘turns in’ on the efforts and
glory of the created instead of the Creator is flawed. It is what Martin Luther
called the “Theology of Glory”.
In the end these exaltations
to “be better” and “try harder” end up breaking the Christians. Because after
trying countless times, they realize that they can’t do it. You can’t stay
awake in prayer and the exaltations to do it “for Christ” cannot help either.
A little theology here:
Christology and Anthropology. Christology
is knowing the Person and work of Jesus Christ while Anthropology is knowing humans, how and why they behave the way
Here is the principle: “A high
Christology leads to a low Anthropology, and vice versa.” What this simply
means is that when you have a high view of Christ, you will automatically have
a low view of people—that is—see them as they are, sinners. And the reverse is
true. Believers in Christ ought to be known for their high Christology, but the
exaltations to be prayer warriors and the sermon excerpts I sampled above say
Exaltations to be good can
never make you good. Law does not produce love. It’s a fool’s game to think
that what will transform us into the likeness of Christ is beating ourselves up
with the Law. It doesn’t work, it never did.
That is why am convinced that
there is a problem in Church today. God’s gospel has been lost in what has now come to be called ‘To-do
list Christianity” or “do more”, “try harder”, “get better or else” kind of
Christianity. That is why a unique Ministry like Overcome exists.
The focus has now shifted
from Christ’s work—Τετέλεσται (It is finished), to our work. Christianity is
no longer about what Christ has done but about what we can do now to attain a
victorious life. How tragic!
how should do we treat this passage? What you need to know is that this passage
is not an exaltation to pray better, smarter, and harder. It is a flat-out
announcement that there are no prayer warriors; that we are all prayer
fact two gospel accounts (Matthew 26:39-45; Mark 14:37:41) tell us that Jesus
found Peter and the other two disciples asleep three times in a space of one
hour. And it wasn’t an overnight.
can’t pray. The bible says so, not just that but we also don’t know how to
pray. We all have a natural inclination towards evil and ungodliness, what do
you think a prayer coming from us will sound like? It will be ‘turned in’ on
itself, outright sinful.
hope and mine should never be in how proficient we pray but in the mind blowing
Good News that Jesus prayed for us. That His record of perfect prayerfulness is
imputed to us without us ever lifting a finger to merit it.
the Holy Spirit also prays for us every day.
the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Forwe
do not know what to pray for as we ought, butthe
Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”—Romans 8:26 (ESV).
hope and prayer is that you will be defined by what God has done for you and
not what you can do for yourself.