Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
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, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Today’s reading reminds us of one of the most important aspects of Jesus’ earthly ministry. We know that Jesus performed signs and wonders, and we know that Jesus brought healing to those who were sick in mind and body. However, all of this is rooted in Jesus’ constant dialogue with his heavenly Father, that is, in prayer. Prayer lies at the heart of the Christian life. We are all called to pray to our heavenly Father. The importance of prayer is made clear in the model Jesus gave us: The Lord’s Prayer. But … how often, when the problems of daily life loom large, do we remember that model?
In every person’s life there are moments of uncertainty, indecision and fear. There are times when we feel betrayed and compromised, just as there are times when we feel affirmed and celebrated. Whatever we are going through in our daily lives, Jesus shows us how we should be responding: we should be taking every aspect of our daily lives to our heavenly Father in prayer. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus gives us the model of praise, hope, intercession, confession and deliverance. The fact that so much is contained within so few words gives us another example to follow. We do not need to burden God with endless words, most of which will focus on our self-justification. God already knows, we just have to have the humility to share things with him. This also takes away the excuse that we do not have time to pray!
In our human lives we struggle with complete honesty. We do not like to be seen as inadequate or weak, just as we do not like to be seen as boastful and smug. But, God wants us to share everything with him. God wants to hear our needs and our fears, and he wants to hear our thanks and praise, not because he needs it but because we do! The problem is that we forget!
As well as reminding us of our need to pray, today’s reading also reminds us that Jesus called twelve ordinary people to be his disciples and apostles. In our ordinariness, that ordinariness which we struggle to admit even to ourselves, we are also called. To be called by God is a very big deal. The only way in which we can cope with such a divine summons is to talk to God, and the only way in which we can consistently do that is in prayer.
Let us pray that we might find the strength to speak with God regularly, taking all that is in our lives to him. Let us also pray that the honesty of our prayerful conversation might put us in a place where we might hear and respond to God’s words to us.