Why did Jesus pray?

O Clarim News Bureau (English)

Dear Father L.

I recently came across the passage in Luke 6:12 where it mentions that “Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.”

This has left me pondering: Why did Jesus pray? Does he need to pray?  As in any answer to questions like these, one could find many sound reasons to explain why the God-man, Jesus Christ, prayed. Many theologians over the course of church history have wrestled with this question. I tried my best to understand some explanations, to no avail. Father L could you give me some answers, so my soul will be satisfied?

Confused Reader

Dear Confused Reader,

I cannot promise you that I will be giving you an answer that will satisfy your soul. I can only offer you some thoughts and prayers that God may increase your faith in him.

It’s a fascinating thing to think about Jesus praying all night. This act on His part teaches us many things just as it would have taught His Apostles.  Here are a few things we can take from His action.

First, it may be thought that Jesus did not “need” to pray.  After all, He is God.  So, did He need to pray? Well, this is actually not the right question to ask. It’s not a matter of Him needing to pray. Rather, it’s a matter of Him praying because His prayer goes to the heart of who He is.

Prayer is first and foremost an act of deep communion with God. In Jesus’ case, it’s an act of deep communion with the Father in Heaven and with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was continually in perfect communion (unity) with the Father and the Spirit and, thus, His prayer was nothing more than an earthly expression of this communion. His prayer is a living out of His love of the Father and the Spirit.  So, it’s not so much that He needed to pray so that He could stay close to them.  Instead, it was that He prayed because He was perfectly united to them.  And this perfect communion demanded an earthly expression of prayer. In this instance, it was prayer all night long.

Second, the fact that it was all night long reveals that Jesus’ “rest” was nothing other than being in the presence of the Father.  Just as rest restores us and rejuvenates us, so the all-night vigil of Jesus reveals that His human rest was that of resting in the presence of the Father.

Third, what we should take from this for our own lives is that prayer should never be underestimated.  Too often we speak a few prayerful thoughts to God and let it go at that.  But if Jesus chose to spend the entire night in prayer, we should not be surprised if God wants much more from our quiet time of prayer than we are now giving Him.  Don’t be surprised if God is calling you to spend much more time every day in prayer.  Do not hesitate to establish a set pattern of prayer.  And if you find that you cannot sleep sometimes at night, do not hesitate to get up, get on your knees, and seek the presence of God living within your soul.  Seek Him, listen to Him, be with Him and let Him consume you in prayer.  Jesus gave us the perfect example.  It is now our responsibility to follow that example.

I further encourage you to reflect upon your own calling to follow Christ and act as His apostle to the world.  The only way you can fulfill this mission is through a life of prayer.  Reflect upon your prayer life and do not hesitate to deepen your resolve to imitate the depth and intensity of our Lord’s perfect example of prayer.

May I ask you to say this prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to pray.  Help me to follow Your example of prayer and to seek the presence of the Father in a deep and continuous way.  Help me to enter into a deep communion with You and to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus, I trust in You.


Father L.

Source of content: mycatholic.life

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(Image: Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann, 1886. Source: Wikipedia.)