Jesus’ “All-Nighter”Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.
When I was in college, I became the master of the "all-nighter." Fortified by a strong brew from my Mr. Coffee machine, and allowing for an occasional Pac-Man break to get my blood pumping, I would stay up all night to study for an exam or write a term paper. I can still remember watching the sunrise as I put the finishing touches on one of my all-night productions.
Jesus pulled an all-nighter just before one of the most important things he ever did. In Luke 6:12-13, we read that he "went out to the mountain to pray" one evening, and remained in prayer throughout the whole night. Then, in the morning, he called together the large group of his followers and selected twelve to have a special role as apostles, those who would preach the Gospel and plant churches after Jesus was no longer on earth. (The Greek word translated as "apostle" means, literally, "one who is sent," usually with a message or to fulfill some important responsibility.)
The fact that Jesus prayed all night before choosing the twelve impresses me for several reasons. For one thing, I don't think I have ever prayed for that long about anything. Had I been in Jesus' place, I expect I would have fallen asleep.
But, apart from the extraordinary length of Jesus' prayer session, I'm struck by the fact that he seemed to need to pray for so long. I wonder what Jesus was praying about for that night. Luke's narrative suggests that at least part of his prayer was devoted to discerning who among his followers should become apostles. Did Jesus talk with his Heavenly Father about each of his disciples, weighing their strengths and weaknesses? Or did he simply wait until the Father revealed who should be apostles? We can't answer these questions from the text. But what we do know is that the Son of God spent a whole night in prayer before he chose his inner circle, his "team," if you will.
The example of Jesus challenges me to consider how devoted I am to prayer when I have to make a major decision. When I'm hiring someone to work for me, do I spent the night in prayer? Or even one focused hour? Do I get away from the busyness of ordinary life, going out to "the mountain" in order to be quiet enough to hear what God has to say to me? Or do I shoot up a few quick prayers and go with my own hunches? If Jesus sensed the need to pull an "all-nighter" in prayer, what does that suggest for me . . . and you?
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever pulled an "all-nighter" for some reason? When and why? Have you ever spent a whole night, or a substantial part thereof, in prayer? If so, when? When you face a major decision, do you get away in order to spend an extended time alone with God in prayer? Is that something you need to do soon?
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, today I am struck once again by your commitment to prayer. And not just the regularity of your times of prayer, but the length of this one in Luke 6. How I wish I could get the transcript of this conversation between you and the Father!
It does seem clear, though, that this long session of prayer was a prerequisite to your selection of the twelve. What a powerful lesson for me! You know, Lord, that sometimes I make decisions without consulting you, or without giving you much of a chance to get a word in edgewise, at any rate. Forgive me for my arrogance and self-reliance.
Stir up in my heart a greater desire to spend time with you. Help me to strengthen my commitment to prayer, whether I feel like it or not. Especially, help me to spend more time in conversation with you when I am facing major decisions and opportunities. Give me ears to hear the still, small voice of your Spirit. Amen.