Temptation is not to be taken lightly. Just ask Peter.
Peter had followed after the Lord for 3 years, learning, growing, and teaching others the Truth: the Messiah had come. So in Matthew 26 when Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny him three times, Peter didn't believe him. "Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee," Peter said (Matthew 26:35). Peter was confident in his faith, confident in his courage, confident in himself.
He was not confident in the Word of God.
Right after this conversation Jesus takes the disciples to pray with him in a place called Gethsemane. This is one of the most intimate and emotional scenes in Jesus life, when he is pleading with his Father for strength and for deliverance, and he chooses Peter to follow him. He gives Peter the opportunity to pray with him, to pray for faith, to pray for courage, to pray strength to resist temptation.
What did Peter do? He fell asleep.
Jesus comes and says to Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Hours later after Jesus arrest, Peter finds himself faced with the temptation to deny Christ three times, and three times he gives into fear. We are told that when Peter realized his sin, he went out and wept bitterly. And in his sorrow, I can't help but think that Peter finally understood what Jesus meant. Peter's spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak.
You see when I read this story today two things became clear to me. First, Peter's failure to resist temptation and take a stand for Jesus was a direct result of his failure to believe the words of Christ and to pray in the garden. His failure to take Jesus at his word and to pray for his faith to be strengthen left Peter unprepared to face temptation when the stakes were at their highest.
Secondly, I am not unlike Peter. I face temptation daily, and those battles are lost when I fail to spend sufficient time in prayer and Bible study. Daily devotional time is often something busy Christians put on the back burner. We often assume that we have something more important to do (maybe catch up on sleep!), or we assume we'll have more time later after the dishes are done, the bills are paid, and the kids have had their bath. Except later never comes, at least not very often.
On the other hand, temptation is around every corner. The Bible teaches that we will all face temptation, whether it's from our own sin nature, sinful people around us, or directly from the roaring lion himself.
However, we have good news!
1 Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
The Bible promises that with every temptation there is a way out because God is faithful even when we're not. That way of escape is found in those quiet moments we spend before the Lord in the garden, when we humble ourselves to hear his Word and to lift up our hearts in prayer.