A Deeper Understanding of Prayer
Luke 9:28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Jesus took his inner circle of disciples with him up to the mountain where he was going to pray. We’re not totally sure what happened up there on that mountain but it was not uncommon for Jesus to go off to have a time of prayer with the disciples close by. We see that they are often extremely tired and have trouble staying awake, but this time they do. As they look up it seems as if the curtain is drawn back and they are able to see into Jesus’ prayer life. They see what they’ve never seen before as Jesus is transformed before their very eyes and is suddenly having a conversation with Moses and Elijah. But is this what normally happened when Jesus spent time in prayer, is this actually a glimpse of Jesus’ participation in the heavenly kingdom in prayer that is being revealed to them, initiating them into a future mystery!
Peter was amazed at what he saw but the real significance was not in the presence of Moses and Elijah, but rather the cloud which was the symbol of God’s presence and the heavenly voice. The ability of the disciples to see what Jesus saw in prayer and to experience the presence of God and to hear his voice was further assurance of the divine majesty of Jesus — the Messiah. This is to encourage them as Jesus moves toward his final time in Jerusalem and to help them understand that he and the Father are one. The vision is one of “the mystery of the future resurrected life in Christ.” (Gregory of Nazianzus)
We are invited to the mountain to prayer with Jesus and in that place prayer becomes a transfiguring and transforming experience. Those who spend time in prayer, spend time in God’s presence. It isn’t about a list of wants and desires, but about being united with God in intimacy.
The invitation to us all is to the mountain and a deeper understanding of prayer. It is in prayer that we participate in the already and not yet of the kingdom of God. It’s the place where we see the kingdom and are encouraged by the words spoken by God and yet are empowered to return to the valley of daily life.
The disciples struggled with understanding the depths of Jesus’ life of prayer. They knew it was something that he did but this moment for them became transformational as Jesus allowed them to see his participation in the heavenlies which he experienced in prayer, allowing his transfiguration to be an invitation to a deeper understanding of prayer.
Prayer is a mystery. Prayer is abiding. Prayer is participating in God. Prayer is transformational.
Lord, please help me to dwell in your presence in prayer. Amen.