“One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” – Luke 6:12
None of us are strangers to the infamous experience of an all-nighter. The realization hits you that your deadline is tomorrow, and you’ve barely started your assignment. That’s when it really sinks in. You have to stay up all night to meet that deadline. After the initial wave of emotion, you fortify yourself with a strong brew from the local Starbucks in preparation for staying up all night to study for an exam or write a term paper. You keep your nose to the grindstone taking only a few minutes to look at your Instagram. Then watching the sunrise as you put the final touches on your project you make a firm commitment to never be in this position again.
In Luke 6:12, Jesus pulled an all-nighter. Luke tells us that Jesus “went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Jesus filled His all-nighter with what we might call a “prayer marathon.”
The first thing that grabs you is the extraordinary length of Jesus’ prayer session. It is too bad we don’t know what Jesus prayed for. It would be amazing to have heard what He said and what He heard from His Father in heaven? Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t give us the specifics of Jesus’s prayer, just the location (mountain) and the time (all night).
Luke 6 does suggest a couple of things Jesus probably mentioned as He prayed. In verse 11, we’re told that the Jewish leaders were furious with Jesus for healing on the sabbath and discussed what they might do to Him. Perhaps Jesus needed to talk with his Father about the growing opposition He was experiencing.
Immediately following His prayer vigil, Jesus called together His disciples and chose twelve of them to have a special role in His work. Luke says He named them “apostles” (6:13). It seems likely that Jesus had prayed about this act of identifying those who would be His intimate band of followers.
The example of Jesus challenges us to consider how devoted we are to prayer when we 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? If Jesus sensed the need to pull an “all-nighter” in prayer, what does that suggest for me . . . and you?
I don’t think we all need to start pulling all-nighters in order to hear God speak to us. But, if we follow the example of Jesus, we will devote substantial time to prayer, talking with our Heavenly Father about the challenges and major decisions we face. If prayer was so important to Jesus, it should be important to us no matter how much time it takes.
- Do you ever take an extended time away for prayer? If so, what have you experienced? If not, why not? Might this be something you’d like to do?