“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. “ Luke 6:12
Pulling an “all-nighter” is college talk for cramming for an exam. Jamming information into an empty head in a short period of time may not be studying, but it beats failing. Been there done that.
Praying all night is seldom turned to with the same consistency as worrying all night, fishing all night, driving all night, or a host of other things that people are willing to go without sleep to perform. Jesus chose praying all night to deal with His enemies and to intercede for His friends. His followers would be well served to follow His lead.
Luke’s Gospel records more about the prayer life of Jesus than any other writer in the New Testament. Though he was not an eye-witness to the earthly ministry of Jesus, and never privileged to hear Him pray in person, the prayer life of Jesus had a powerful impact on Luke’s life.
Within the context of a crisis, Jesus always turned to prayer. “It was at this time,” Jesus was squeezed between the rage of His enemies and the selection of His disciples.
When the Pharisees saw Jesus heal a man’s withered hand on The Sabbath, they simultaneously lost their minds, and found their “reason to accuse Him.” While they spewed and accused, Jesus “went off to the mountain to pray.”
“But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” Luke 6:11
Praying throughout the night, on The Mountain was not a matter of escaping his enemies by taking a religious retreat. Jesus prayed all night to fight for His friends, without being distracted by His enemies.
All night on The Mountain, Jesus prayed and battled, for the souls of twelve weak men. All would serve alongside of him, during his earthly ministry. One would betray Him, and another would deny Him. When He went to The Cross, all would desert Him, save one. These apostles would be privileged to follow Him on earth, and responsible to carry out His mission after He ascended into Heaven.
Note to self: Whenever there is a crisis of leadership, in the church, in the city or in the country, it is time to pray. Follow Jesus.
“And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also called as apostles.” Luke 6:13
Recently I was asked to complete an 18-part questionnaire, sent by a Pastor Search Committee seeking a reference on behalf of a dear friend. Reading it was like waking up on the last day of school, and discovering a term paper I had forgotten to write. It was put together with all of the best intentions. The flashing light on my dashboard was how little emphasis was placed on the prayer life of the next man that would lead this church. Only one of the 18 questions dealt with this vital area of leadership. Jesus placed a high priority on it. But I digress.
Jesus entered into prolonged and intense prayer before He selected The Twelve. Praying through and after the selection of leaders within the church would be a vast improvement over what most churches do to nominate and elect people to places of responsibility.
A prayerful selection process must not be replaced by prayerless elections that are merely popularity contests. A prayerless process seldom discovers prayerful leaders, but it often empowers powerful politicians.
The Mountain was a place of refuge, but it was not an escape hatch. Jesus went to The Mountain to pray. His enemies were active. Jesus chose not to be defensive, but pro-active. Turning his back on His enemies was not a way of running away from those who hated Him. Praying all night was His way of turning to His Father who loved Him.
The devil is an accuser. He throws the fiery darts of his accusations against The Father’s children to see if they will stick. People who are constant critics, and perpetual putdown artists do the devil’s work. They may not be evil personified, but they are handpuppets of the evil one.
“At this time” Jesus chose not to engage His enemies or escape them. He interceded for them. He never stopped. With His last breath, on The Cross, Jesus would gasp out in prayer.
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Prolonged, private prayer is the climate in which forgiveness towards enemies is cultivated and intercession for friends is rooted in the life of a prayer warrior. Jesus went to The Mountain to pray, driven by the conspiracies of His enemies and His concern for the weaknesses of His friends.
Praying throughout the night, Jesus turned his focus away from his enemies, and towards The Father, while interceding on behalf of His friends. Prayer focuses on The Father’s solution, not the enemy’s pollution.
Jesus did not hide His head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. He turned His eyes towards The Father in Heaven. Prolonged prayer enables the prayer warrior to focus upon The Champion, in the middle of the battle, and not the enemy.
Praying throughout the day maintains a clear connection and consistent companionship with Jesus. Still, from the evidence of The Savior’s life, there are times when prolonged periods of uninterrupted prayer are needed. Breaking the power of The Accuser is found by praying, and entering The Presence of God.
Going to The Mountain clears the air, and clears the mind of the prayer warrior from the accusations and the conspiracies of the enemy. In the clamor and confusion created by forces of evil, it is impossible for prayerless voices to shout down the sound of the enemy camp.
Praying all night removed the voices of His accusers, and enabled Jesus to hear the voice of The Father. Praying will improve the hearing of His followers. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!