Now is the Time to Pray!
A Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 6:12-16
Today’s Gospel begins with these words,
“In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles…” (Luke 6:12–13 NABRE)
Jesus prays before choosing His Apostles from among the many disciples. A disciple is one who follows his or her teacher. Jesus tells us that the role of a disciple is to follow his teacher such that he can become just like him. He says,
“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40 NABRE)
From this group of disciples, Jesus further names twelve Apostles. They did not cease at this point to be the Lord’s disciples, but the Lord choses them to be sent on mission. The word, Apostle comes from the Greek apŏstĕllō. It means one who is set apart, chosen, and sent as a delegate to represent the one who sends or commissions them. Jesus sends fishermen, a tax collector, a political zealot, and even one whom Jesus knew would betray Him. For these twelve, Jesus spends the entire night in prayer. He had to been exhausted after the long journeys, healing, teaching, and contending with the obstacles that Satan set before Him. Yet, it is that important. God the Son lets nothing get in the way of the intense relationship of love that is the Blessed Trinity and His mission.
The Gospels record that Jesus often left to go off and pray. In doing so, Jesus shows us two significant aspects of the Christian Life. Foremost, the Lord models the immense importance of prayer as part of our relationship with God. Second, we see the Lord’s work for us as a tireless intercessor.
Jesus lives in relationship, in communion, with the Father. So must we! When the day does not offer enough time for prayer, Jesus will climb a mountain and pray all night. Prayer is not incidental to our relationship with God, it is vital. St Paul writes,
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–19 NABRE)
Our conversation with the Lord should not be a sporadic, need-based event, but a constant dialogue. We must listen as well as speak. Rejoicing is especially linked to prayer. Even in dire circumstances, God waits upon us. He awaits the surging of our heart to Him who loves us without measure. This is our joy! Consider that Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane even when the disciples cannot keep their eyes open. Jesus prays even in the midst His suffering upon the cross. The Vatican II council writes in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes,
The root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by God’s love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to his Creator. (Gaudium et Spes 19)
More than just modeling the importance of prayer for us, Jesus in that night of prayer was also at work, interceding with God the Father on behalf of those He would send out as Apostles. Jesus does not pray to the Father merely as a contemplative worshipper; he makes intercession to the Father for his own, for us. St John in his First Letter writes,
“… we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1b–2 NABRE)
Jesus prays on the night He was betrayed
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” (John 17:9–10 NABRE)
Jesus is always at work interceding, advocating, and mediating for us with the Father. Think of this next time you, God forbid, fall into sin. Even as you and I fall, Christ is faithful. He is already interceding with the Father on our behalf. God loves you and I that much!
We cannot meditate enough upon what it means that Jesus is our Intercessor. We too are called in prayer to unite ourselves with Jesus’ intercession for all mankind. As disciples, we are called to follow the example the Lord set for us. Our prayerful intersession when united to the Lord’s attains the breadth and depth of his self-offering for all mankind. That is why the Church, too, in her prayer of intercession, prays “for all men” (1 Tim 2:1), even for her enemies and persecutors, and also “for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.”
On this Memorial of St Jude and Simon the Zealot let us recall that their strength, their passion, their love springs forth from their prayerful relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Pray without ceasing! Our Lord is always faithful, even when we are not, and never stops telling God the Father of His intense love for us, interceding on our behalf.
Take this moment and rejoice. Pray to and with God, who never ceases to pray with us. St Therese of Lisieux writes,
With me prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love … it is something noble, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites it to God. (St Thérèse 163)
Now is the time to pray!
ST Thérèse of Lisieux. The Story of a Soul. London: Burns and Oates, 1912. Print.
Vatican II. “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: Gaudium Et Spes.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
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