Learning From How Jesus Prayed1
Would it surprise you to know that on the night before choosing the twelve apostles Jesus spent a whole night in prayer: “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13). Continue reading . . .
Would it surprise you to know that on the night before choosing the twelve apostles Jesus spent a whole night in prayer: “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
Let me try to explain what Jesus did in terms that may make more sense to us here in the 21st century. Jesus turned off the TV, left his cell phone at home, turned off his computer and put it away. There was for him no twitter, no hanging out, no blogging, no Facebook! There’s no indication he sought the advice of the many disciples who were following him. There’s no indication he asked his family for counsel. And he certainly didn’t go to the synagogue for help. He turned to his heavenly father!
It may strike some of you as odd that Jesus actually prayed! According to your way of thinking, what’s the point? He was God! He already knew everything! He couldn’t have felt any form of weakness or had a sense of need or experienced dependency or uncertainty. After all, we’re talking about the second person of the Holy Trinity in human flesh. What possible reason could he have for praying to the Father?
Yes, he was and is the Son of God, second person of the eternal Godhead. But when he became incarnate, when he took upon himself human flesh and became a human being, he lived as a human being; he experienced the world as a human being; he thought and smelled and felt and related to other people as a human being. He didn’t cease to be God. He didn’t lose any divine attributes. But the mystery of the Incarnation is that he temporarily suspended the independent use of those divine attributes so that he could experience time and space and history and the world in which we live as any other human being would.
When we see Jesus heal the sick or cleanse the lepers or cast out demons or teach with authority or display a supernatural knowledge that humans couldn’t otherwise possess, we must understand that he did all this as a man who was dependent upon and drawing from the strength supplied by the Holy Spirit who indwelt him and filled and empowered him. In other words, Jesus lived his life in precisely the way that you and I are to live ours: moment by moment drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit!
So, although we don’t have the record of what Jesus prayed; although we don’t know what he asked the Father, it seems fairly clear from Luke’s gospel that he laid before him the massively important decision he was to make the next day about who among the many disciples who followed him were to be selected as the 12 apostles! Listen again:
“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
As if to emphasize the urgency, fervency, and depth of need that Jesus was feeling at this time, Luke tells us that “all night he continued in prayer to God”! All night! Hour after hour after hour! How many of us have ever prayed for more than 30 minutes or an hour before falling asleep or giving up in frustration?
Yet, here is Jesus, over and over and over again, praying: “Father, help me understand who these men are. Give me insight into their character. Let me understand how they will be used in my ministry. Show me their strengths. Show me their weaknesses. Grant me insight into how they will work as a team. Are there flaws in some of the disciples that I need to know about?”
We need to learn from our Lord’s example. If Jesus felt the need for solitude, and considered it important enough to spend hours with God pouring out his heart and listening to the voice of his Father, how much more so do you and I!
This isn’t to suggest that seeking the advice of others is invalid. Far from it! Read books and seek counsel and talk about it with people who are experts and more mature and experienced than you are. But never do so in such a way that it is more important than spending time alone with God and pressing into his heart. All of life, from the small decisions to the major life-change choices must be bathed in prayer.
Some of you are on the verge of some fairly significant decisions: Should I quit this job and take another? Should I go to this college or that one? Should I stay in this city or move? Should I marry that person or stay single and wait for another? Should we have children now or delay it for a few years? Is this the time to buy a house or should we continue to rent?
Now understand that sometimes God will guide you by saying nothing! That’s right. He may keep silent precisely because he wants you to seek the counsel of others or because he’s made his will explicitly clear in Scripture and you simply need to read the Book! Or he may want you to use your common sense and to follow the dictates of wisdom.
But you’ll never know until you ask!