Praying All Night
by Sharon Betters
In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God.
Luke 6:12 ESV
Shortly after the death of our son, our five-year-old niece asked her mother why she should pray, because everyone she prayed for died. Wondering the same thing, but wanting to give her little girl some kind of response, she quickly said, “I don’t know. All I know is that Jesus needed to pray, so we do too.”
Although she was initially unsure how to answer, my sister’s response was correct. Jesus needed to pray. Throughout the life of Jesus on earth, He frequently slipped away to pray. At the very beginning of His ministry, He “went out to the mountain to pray, and ALL NIGHT he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). Don’t quickly scan these words. Let their meaning sink in. The context of this prayer time makes these words even more profound for us:
And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles: Simon, whom He named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Luke 6:13-16 ESV
Jesus prayed all night in preparation for choosing the twelve disciples who would travel with Him on His pilgrimage back Home. Included in that “gang of 12” is Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. I wonder if Luke shook his head while writing these words, recognizing that God the Father directed God the Son to choose the very man who would betray Him. Is it possible that Jesus wrestled all night in prayer because He knew that the betrayal of Judas would lead to the most agonizing days of His life on earth?
Praying all night indicates need. Can you see the dependence of our Savior on His Father? Such a thought stretches my brain. Jesus, perfect strength and equal to His Father, chooses to humbly submit to Him. He frequently exclaimed He came to do His Father’s will. How much more do we, broken sinners, need to become like little children in our dependence on Him?
When life happens, and seemingly impossible situations tempt us to run away, a choice confronts us. What is our default mode when an adult child walks away from his faith, a marriage is not a safe place, a job is in jeopardy, a friend betrays you? You fill in the blank. We can become bitter and throw up our hands in despair, because none of our good living worked. Or, we can learn from our Savior who repeatedly demonstrated His total dependence on His Father. Jesus regularly said He was here to do His Father’s business, He did nothing unless His Father gave Him instructions.
On that frantic drive to the hospital behind the ambulance carrying my friend’s dying husband, I saw a woman run to her Father for comfort and guidance. She knew death lurked at the door and her journey might take her to a desperate place of agony. Through her broken singing, she worshiped and surrendered to her Father’s plan. Helplessness drove her to the Cross. Her default mode kicked in. In the following months, I watched as my friend struggled to reconcile God’s love with the death of her husband. Her default mode was not an easy fix for her broken heart. In time, her practice of running to Jesus equipped her to walk the pathway prepared for her by God.
What is your default mode? What is mine? Remember, we are on a pilgrimage. Don’t lose heart when you fail. Mundane irritating life moments create opportunities to practice leaning into Jesus as a child hangs onto the leg of his parent. My friend’s daily practice was to spend time with Jesus by reading and meditating on Scripture. When life hemmed her in, her auto response reflected that regular communication with her God. Her husband’s sudden death broke her heart and Jesus’ love glowed through the cracks. Running to Him was her daily practice. What is your auto response? What is mine?
Oh Lord, we thank you for giving us a glimpse of Jesus as Your Son who needed His Father. Show us the priceless treasures of becoming a little child and running to You when life happens.