In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 And 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 and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. – Luke 6:12-22 [ESV]
We were at a deadlock. Seven men of good repute were in conversation and deliberation about who to call as an associate pastor at the church I served at that time. We each had out ideas, and some of them were strong and well-secured. No one was stubborn about it. But we were all pretty well set in our opinions.
So I called an audible. “Let’s pray.” And we did. Each of us offered a prayer for God’s guidance. Around the table. Every one of us expressing our thoughts and prayers for wisdom and guidance to God. When we finished, one of the holdouts said, “I think we have an answer.” Somehow we all almost immediately all agreed on the path forward. A few weeks later we installed a new associate pastor. He was a blessing to us and to the Kingdom. I don’t remember he and I were together in our thoughts or not; it doesn’t matter. The blessings of God’s answer to our prayers played out before our eyes.
Part of my current ministry calling involves churches in the process of calling a new pastor. When I meet with the group I retell that story. I stress that the calling of a pastor ought to be a prayerful process. It has been a consistent approach for many years. Sometimes it has taken us to places we had not expected. But we are committed to it.
We have a good example. Jesus, before naming the 12 as apostles, spent the night in prayer. Then, from his disciples he chose 12. How many others were there at that time? We don’t know. At one time there were 70 or 72, 120, or who knows how many others might have been in consideration. But we do know he chose 12 to be sent.
We’ve all been called to be disciples. We’re called to follow Jesus. And we’re all sent in one manner or another: to our families or to foreign lands. But these 12 (minus one) would fulfill a major role in the development of the New Testament Church. They would send out others to faraway places. And they would themselves go. To India. To Samaria. To Egypt. And they would also listen to long discussions about new Gentile converts and determine the level to which they would be required to observe the Jewish law (very low).
Ours may not be as dramatic or Kingdom shaping as these 12. But they are the vessel, not the source of any blessings they would bring. So who knows how God may use you to bring his rule and reign into view for others? A start to any significant impact of that nature must surely be prayerful.