Daily Reflection
September 6th, 2005

Robert P. Heaney

John A. Creighton University Chair
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Colossians 2:6-15
Psalm 145:1b-2, 8-9, 10-11
Luke 6:12-19

Jesus spent the night in prayer to God. Of course he did. Jesus was holy, the holiest person who ever lived. Holy people pray. Right?

That risks missing the point. This is another of those contexts in which, failing to grasp Jesus’ full humanity, we may miss the rich meaning of this passage. To begin with, it helps to remember, once again, that “pray” in the New Testament means “ask”. So the verse can be rephrased as “. . . he spent the night asking God . . .” Asking what?

Jesus had taken on an incredibly ambitious vocation, one whose outlines he could only dimly grasp. He set out to call Israel back to its covenant role of witnessing God’s loving plan for all peoples. At this point in Luke’s narrative he had just told the home folks in Nazareth of his mission, quoting from Isaiah, and they had rejected him. He had started to call disciples and produced some symbolically important cures. The project was growing, perhaps faster than he could have expected. It was a little scary.

Jesus, always seeking to do his Father’s will, now wasn’t sure what God wanted him to do next. So he prayed; he asked God, “What do you want me to do?” All night.

We find out God’s answer in the next verse, when Jesus came down from the hills and named twelve of his disciples as “apostles” – twelve for the twelve tribes of Israel – sending a strong message that he was setting about the recreation of God’s people.

Nearly a dozen times in the Gospels the evangelists tell us that Jesus went off by himself to pray (that is, to ask) – virtually always at some critical turning point in the ministry. Have we ever experienced that same kind of uncertainty? It helps, I think, to know that Jesus did too. We can do no better than to do as he did – ask God over and over, all night long if needed: “What do you want me to do?”

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook