Jesus Pulls an All-Nighter

And then picks the 12 apostles.

Luke 6:12-19 (ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 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.

And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

Almost everyone has pulled an all-nighter at some point in their life. Think back. Why did you do it?

Other than crazy youth group events and such, all-nighters are generally times of crisis. You want to sleep but you can’t, either because of deadline pressure or because you’re involved in an emergency. The next time Luke records Jesus pulling an all-nighter, it’s that kind of scenario – His arrest and trial.

That’s what makes this passage so extraordinary. Jesus goes out to the mountain to pray and ends up praying all night. Then, apparently as a result of the prayers, He picks the twelve apostles. This is a major management decision, which sets up the structure of His church.

Luke didn’t mention the all-nighter by accident; it’s a key part of the story. Jesus was dependent on prayer – significant prayer. On the night He was betrayed, He prayed for a long time too.

Jesus didn’t just pick twelve apostles; He prayed all night and then did it.

As part of the Navigators “Design for Discipleship” series, I did their “Spend a Day in Prayer” exercise. It changed my life. My career has been dominated by an idea I came up with in the middle of the night after I completed that exercise. There’s no way that’s just a coincidence. Serious prayer is life changing.

It is a huge challenge to set aside an entire day aside for prayer, but it’s worth the effort.

And pray strategically. Lay your future before the Lord and ask Him for guidance. What does God want you to do (or be?) Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to take bold steps.

And be open to new directions.

Note: the Navigators defined this as 8 hours of prayer. Our group broke this into two separate half-days, 4 hours each.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.