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Jesus charged his disciples to watch and pray in Matthew Chapter 26, and in earlier reading it seemed to me that he was probably referring to the events of that night.

In my more recent studies the statement in verse 41 "That ye not enter into temptation" caused me to wonder if he might not be giving a continuing instruction to watch for the temptations of Satan because he knew that after his death and resurrection, that Satan would then concentrate on the church.

Matthew 26:38 through 41 NRKJV

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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I like this, because you are using a good hermenutical approach - don't just assume every verse applies to all generations. –  Affable Geek Nov 14 '13 at 20:00
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3 Answers

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While Matthew 26:38 may or may not be an imperative for all future generations, the thrust of it is consistent with many, many other stories that clearly do suggest all of Jesus followers should "watch and pray with me, that you do not enter temptation."

Jesus tells these parables to his followers, all of which could be said to varying degrees are an admonition that one watch for the return of the Lord, so that you are not caught unawares. And, as Peter reminds us of the implication, "Seeing that all things will be ended in this fashion, what manner of life ought we to live? We ought to live holy lives."

Parables which teach this "watching and waiting, being prepared" aspect:

And note - this was just from memory, and pretty much all of these were from the same book of Matthew. As such, even if this specific verse may just be for those disciples with Jesus, the general principle seems to be pretty much everywhere else around it - so its inclusion probably can be taken more generally.

This teaching is also not even unique to the Gospels. Paul picks up on it, and even Genesis (think Cain - Watch and be on your guard, for Satan is seeking those whom he can devour) and Chronicles (For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro, seeking those upon whose behalf He can show himself strong.)

Thus, regardless of the proof texts used to support the claim, I think it is safe to say that the whole Biblical witness would support it, even if this verse itself were clearly categorized one way or another.

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In the context of this passage, I would consider it Risky Exegesis™ to apply it to people beyond who the speaker intended (based on what he says). In this case, he is speaking "to the disciples." I take that to mean meaning the three that went with him farther in: Peter, James and John. The text seems to indicate the objects of his speaking, and so redirecting the statement to new objects is the point at which I would be very cautious.

If you want a command from the Lord about prayer and temptation, the Lord's Prayer would probably suffice:

Matthew 6:9-13 KJV
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come . Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

This command has no limitations on audience or duration, and I read this section (the Sermon on the Mount) as applying to all Jesus' followers, henceforward throughout time.

An related question of interest might be, "How can I know if a Biblical mandate applies?" I see a number of people choose commands from the Bible (that they like, presumably) and say that those things apply to them, even though I cannot (personally) make build a logical case to support the idea.

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To watch and pray as long as it takes keep Satan from ENTER-ing the disciples of Jesus.
(enter how? don't ask)

And you are right, this story is about the betrayal of Judas. A human like any of us. And how Satan got the best of Judas. see the story in Mt26/Mk14/Lk22

In Mt26:38, Jesus knowing that "Satan entered Judas" (Lk22:3), made the point that Satan knows the bad plans/ideas in our heart and it is waiting an opportunity to ENTER and to carry-out the bad plans/ideas in our heart. Specially talking to Peter because he is about to deny Jesus as the story continues.

Jesus prayed so Satan would not change his mind so He told the Disciples to do the same.

Thanks for reading

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