The time is drawing near. The crucifixion is close. Jesus and the disciples leave the upper room and go to the Mount of Olives, to an olive grove on the side of the mountain called Gethsemane. Bookending this excursion is Jesus’ urgent message to the disciples. “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial/temptation (Luke 22:40, 46).” The word Jesus uses, peirasmón, can mean either trial or temptation, and both are legitimate translations and critical warnings.
Pray continually, because times of temptation will come. None of us, not even Jesus, avoid temptation altogether (Luke 4). Pray continually, because times of trials will come. You don’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble will find you all on its own.
It’s precisely what Jesus models in Gethsemane. Jesus prays with great urgency and complete honesty. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me (Luke 22:42).” He earnestly asks that God would lead him not into the coming trial, to remove this cup.
However, Jesus also knows not every trial can be avoided. Not all trouble can be abated. So in those times and all times, we aim to have our desires take a backseat to God’s desires. We surrender our ways to the ways of the kingdom. “Not my will but yours be done (Luke 22:42).”
And I can’t help but think that is the key to this whole story. When we develop the discipline to make praying for the will of God our daily practice, then when the unavoidable trials and temptations come, and they will come, we already have rehearsed the words over and over and over. It’s how Jesus taught us to pray. “Lead us not into the trials/temptation, but deliver us from evil.” And through it all… “Your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10, 13).”