I want to know what it’s like to sit close to Jesus while he’s praying. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus prays often. In chapter 9, he “was praying alone, with only the disciples near him” (vs 18).
How long did Jesus pray? Did Jesus pray with his eyes closed or opened to heaven? Was his face to the ground as he prayed on bended knee? How loud did he pray? Did he mix it up?
We should find different ways to pray. Think of it as taking a different way home. When you change how you travel home, you notice other parts of your community. There are new homes, new places to see. Then there are the same old things you remember that you forgot.
However Jesus prayed that day, it got him ready. His praying feels different. “Thank you, God, for this day. Keep my family safe and bless us all today.” That’s a simple prayer. That’s an important prayer to us all.
I imagine Jesus prayed for his family and his disciples. But this scene tells me his praying went deeper than that, too. Luke doesn’t say Jesus finished praying. There’s no “Amen” and moving on to the task of the day. Instead, the text says when Jesus was praying he asked his disciples two questions. Does that mean the questions were a part of his praying? If so, Jesus included his followers in prayer.
He asked, “Who do people say that I am?” After hearing their response, he asked, “But who do you say that I am?”
Preachers love that passage. It gives us the chance to ask our congregations, “Who do you say Jesus is?” That is an important consideration, after all. But let’s look again at Jesus. Why did he want to know what people thought of him? What his disciples thought of him?
Read again what he says after that to appreciate everything Jesus has in his mind. My impression is this may be a moment Jesus is making sense of his ministry. He’s contemplating what it means for others to walk in his name. In order to do that faithfully, he needed prayer.
Our Lord knew prayer strengthened his communion with God. That allowed him to juggle the thoughts and wonderings of his life. I’m never quite sure how to explain how prayer works. I’m not sure it’s good to say it does. But I do know it was a part of the life and faith of Jesus. And if our Lord needed prayer and worshiped God through prayer, then I need it, too.