Luke 6:12

ESV In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
NIV One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
NASB Now it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer with God.
CSB During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.
NLT One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
KJV And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

What does Luke 6:12 mean?

Luke's story of Jesus has recorded a slow transition. This began with proof of His authority and moved to an introduction of the new way He offers. As His intentions become clearer, so does the conflict with the Pharisees: the religious leaders of Galilee. In two bright spots, Jesus chose Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and then Levi to be His disciples (Luke 5:1–11, 27–28; Mark 1:16–20). Now, He fills out the list of His primary ambassadors to spread His way after He is gone from earth (Luke 6:12–16).

Luke's is the only gospel which mentions that Jesus prays before He chooses. This is the only account of an all-night prayer in Scripture. Jesus has a considerable number of disciples and will continue to claim many whose names we don't even know; choosing twelve to establish the church requires the Father's guidance.

The nature of interactions between the Persons of the Trinity during Jesus' incarnation is unclear. Jesus regularly prays to the Father (Mark 1:35; 14:35–39; Luke 5:16; John 17). His power comes from the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) as He has set His own aside (Philippians 2:5–7). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus resolves to do and say only what the Father tells Him (John 5:19) even if the human part of Him would wish for something else (Matthew 26:39). Jesus is God and the Son of God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons with equal glory and the same essence; together, they are one God. That Jesus the Son can pray to His Father shows they are distinct Persons; that His holiness makes Him a sufficient sacrifice for our sins shows He is God.

The fact that God the Son takes time away from ministry to commune with God the Father is vitally important to us. Jesus climbs a mountain to gain separation from the noise and distractions (Matthew 14:23; Luke 9:28); He also goes to desolate places (Luke 4:42) and even just away from the disciples in a garden (Luke 22:41). If Jesus needed time away to pray to God, how much more do we who are made in God's image but do not share His essence?

Matthew's and Mark's accounts don't mention Jesus' prayer in this instance, but they do explain why Jesus chose the Twelve: to give them "authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction" (Matthew 10:1) or "that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons" (Mark 3:14–15).

The apostles follow Jesus' example by praying before major decisions. They pray before replacing Judas (Acts 1:24) and before choosing deacons (Acts 6:6); the church in Syrian Antioch prays before sending Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1–3); and Paul and Barnabas pray before setting elders over the churches they established (Acts 14:23).
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