Read Luke 6:12-16
12-16 It was in those days that he went up the hill-side to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God. When daylight came, he summoned his disciples to him and out of them he chose twelve whom he called apostles. They were Simon (whom he called Peter), Andrew, his brother, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon, called the patriot, Judas, the son of James and Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed him. (JBP)
Jesus spent a whole night praying, presumably related to choosing his closest disciples. And he still ended up with Judas. And not just Judas but a few other hot-tempered incompetents who had ego problems.
It is a reminder to us that prayer is not at all ‘neat and tidy’. The theologian Ray Anderson says, “Prayer is not a means of removing the unknown and unpredictable elements in life, but rather a way of including the unknown and unpredictable in the outworking of the grace of God in our lives.”
Prayer remains something of a mystery. It is not as if we put a faith coin in the slot and out comes the jackpot of fulfilled wishes and desires. It is not as if prayer makes everything work out just right. Prayer is not a form of religious magic.
And yet we pray. And yet prayer has its effects. Those bumbling disciples were slowly transformed and played their part in turning the world upside down. And even Judas’ treachery led to the cross and the possibility of salvation for humankind. In the words of Philip Yancey, prayer incorporates the unknown and unpredictable in the outworking of God’s grace.