“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Luke 6.12-16
It’s a bit telling to be amazed by Jesus going out by himself to “a mountainside to pray” and that he “spent the night prayer to God.” For one, doesn’t he ever sleep? For two, wasn’t there work to be done? For three, how the heck do you pray all night?
I confess that intentional “on my knees praying” isn’t my style. And who is to say Jesus prayed that way? The modern Jews pray standing, with arms raised, eyes open, and their bodies moving back and forth to represent a candle aflame with the love and fire of God.
So maybe Jesus prayed like this. Maybe he walked in circles and prayed or paced back and forth. Perhaps he hiked up and down the mountain or maybe he simply sat and spoke to God. I don’t know how he did it, but I know that he did in fact pray.
And to my other points, sleep was probably a luxury he didn’t get a lot of as he was in such demand for his teaching wisdom and acts of healing. And in terms of other work needing to be done, there was plenty! Jesus once said, “the poor you will always have with you.” It makes me think Jesus was concerned about higher-loftier-eternal things rather than what I sometimes worry about.
Consequently, after Jesus prayed all night, he made one of the most important decisions of his three year ministry — who would be his disciples. And then the text calls them by name.
Jesus did his most important work after praying. Remember Gethsemane? His journey to the cross came after a night of agonizing prayer.
So what about me? What about us? Are we intentionally interested in prayer? Do we see the benefits of communicating with God Almighty? Do we see the joy in “praying without ceasing” as Paul spoke about? What is holding us back from bringing heaven to earth? If the Kingdom of God is truly among us then why don’t we pray?
The truth is, some of us do pray. Even if we don’t wake up like the monks at 3 AM, and follow a strict liturgy multiple times throughout the day, we are praying. Prayer comes when we not only think about God but interact with him. When we lean into his love, invite him into every aspect of our lives, and become aware of his constant presence.
“O Lord God, you have my heart. My affections are yours, my love for you is great. I am thankful for the moments of prayer, of communion, of conversation that we have throughout the day. Help me become more intentional, to set aside time to pray and to learn to listen to your heart and find guidance from your Holy Spirit. Come now, Lord God Almighty, make your way into my life. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen