PATTERNS OF PRAYERFULNESS
Heavenly Father, may fellowship with you be my mainstay. Help me to listen, as well as to speak, when I pray.
Read LUKE 6:12-26
The Twelve Apostles
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Blessings and Woes
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Work as if you were to live a hundred years, pray as if you were to die tomorrow.’1
A characteristic theme in Luke’s gospel is the habitual way Jesus withdraws to pray. He has already gone out to a ‘solitary place’ at daybreak2 and retreated to ‘lonely places’ to pray.3 Here he retires to a mountainside to spend the whole night praying to God (v 12). This is clearly a regular habit, particularly important before significant events such as the choosing of the twelve apostles, and Luke emphasizes Jesus’ prayerful dependence on the Father in preparation for this event.
One of the common themes of these references is solitude. This may function as an example for his followers to imitate, yet Jesus is not doing it for their benefit but for his own. He needs to get away from everyone and find a place of silence alone. Luke does not tell us what happens in these times of prayer, but they are presumably about hearing from the Father, refocusing on that core relationship, and clarifying how God is leading him.
When I was a teenager, I started the regular habit of silent personal retreats, first in a beautiful inner-city convent near my house in Houston. I have maintained this practice throughout my adult life, normally three times per year, before each new term starts (as I work in the academic world). A helpful analogy is a pond – when you drop a pebble in, you must wait to allow the ripples to subside before it becomes calm once again and your reflection becomes clear. Similarly, we all need regular times of retreat, solitude, and silence, where we allow ourselves to become still and are then able to see with greater clarity. These have become a lifeline for me and a much-needed chance to hear again from God and realign myself with what he is saying.
Have you discovered your own regular pattern of prayer, silence, stillness, and solitude? Consider scheduling a personal retreat in the next few months, to be alone in prayer with God.
Thank you Father, that you never tire of my coming to you in prayer, that you always hear me, even when I reach out to you from the quiet recesses of my heart.
1 Benjamin Franklin, 1706–90 2 Luke 4:42 3 Luke 5:16
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