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43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.

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43. And found them sleeping again. This drowsiness arose neither from excessive eating and drinking, nor from gross stupidity, nor even from effeminate indulgence of the flesh, but rather—as Luke tells us—from immoderate sorrow. Hence we perceive more clearly how strong is the tendency of our flesh to indifference; since even dangers lead us to forgetfulness of God. Thus on every hand Satan finds suitable and ready opportunities of spreading his snares for us. For if we dread no danger, he intoxicates and drowns us in sleep; and if we experience fear and sorrow, which ought to arouse us to pray, he overwhelms our senses, so that they do not rise to God; and thus, in every respect, men fall away and forsake God, till he restores them. We must observe also this circumstance, that the disciples, after having been sharply reproved, almost at that very moment fall again asleep. Nor is this said of the whole body, but of the three whom Christ had selected to be his chief companions; and what shall we say of the greater number, when this happened to the flower of them? Now the repetition of the same words was not a vain repetition, (βατταλογία) which Christ formerly condemned in hypocrites, (Matthew 6:7) who hope that they will obtain by idle talking what they do not ask honestly and sincerely. 209209     Harmony, vol. 1, p. 313 But Christ intended to show by his example, that we must not be discouraged or grow weary in praying, if we do not immediately obtain our wishes. So then, it is not a superfluous repetition of the words, if a repulse which we have experienced is so far from extinguishing the ardor of prayer, that we ask a third and fourth time what God appears to have denied.




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