Pentecost 23 – Saturday Devotion

Readings:  Jeremiah 29:1-19 and Matthew 26:36-56

Additional Reading:  Revelation 14:1-20

Jeremiah 29: 11-13:   For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.  You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.

Matthew 26: 40-41:   And [Jesus] came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with Me one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

“Pray”

Did God have plans for those three sleepy disciples?  I’m sure He did.  They were in that Garden of Gethsemane as our representatives to show us how to do it.  Or, rather, how not to do it!

“You will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.”  Jeremiah wrote those gracious words of invitation which God inspired him to write.  We are blessed to hear those same words today.  They inspire us to pray.  Why?  God has a plan.  

Some people have received Jeremiah 29:11 as their confirmation verse.  That verse serves the confirmand in strengthening his or her faith.  That verse is a source of instruction, encouragement, guidance, and hope.  Knowing that God has a plan for each of us tells us a little more about God—He is concerned for our present and future well-being.  

Jesus was concerned for the temporal and eternal well-being of His disciples. “Watch and pray with Me,” Jesus would say, “for I know your hearts are weary after all that you have witnessed in this world concerning Me.”  Jesus knows our every weakness.  He wanted His disciples to know that He knew their challenges and struggles, especially as they would soon be thrown into the lion’s den of that Garden but a few short moments later.  It may seem that today we are very much like those disciples, for we also face our daily ‘lion’s den’ of challenges and problems.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  We’ve heard that used in casual conversation.  Yes, those sleepy disciples were there in that garden for us.  God still had a plan for those weak disciples, just as He has a plan for us sleepy believers.  

That’s why the invitation and command to pray has been placed upon the believer.  “Call upon [God’s name] in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks” (Second Commandment Explanation).  Luther tells us the proper way to use God’s name, and prayer is that one true way we honor God with our praises as well as our laments.  We saw how Jesus prayed; ought not our prayers be as earnest as His?

Did God have a plan for Jesus?  We see that plan unfold in the pages of Holy Scripture.  It would involve betrayal and arrest, denial and beatings, ridicule and shame, crucifixion and death.  But we also know the plan for man’s forgiveness of being weak in flesh and faith was accomplished by the will of the Father to whom Jesus prayed.  

Does God have a plan for you?  That answer may still be coming.  But with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we make our requests known to God, because His will would keep us from evil and give us strength when our soul is weak.

“You will seek Me and find Me.”  When we pray, Jesus intercedes for us before the Father’s throne of grace (Romans 8:34).  “Not my will but Thine be done,” we pray, trusting that the plan the Father has for us is far better than we could ever imagine.  And that plan will benefit our welfare and protect us from evil.  Amen to that!

 

Let us pray:  O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.  (The Collect for Peace)

Our Father…

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
The LORD will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.  Amen.  (Psalm 121:7-8)