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Verse 12. And it came to pass in those days. The designation of the time here is very general. It means about the time when the events occurred which had been just narrated.

He went out into a mountain. Jesus was accustomed to resort to such places to hold communion with God, Mr 6:46. He did it because it was retired, free from interruption, and fitted by impressiveness and grandeur to raise the thoughts to the God that had formed the high hills and the deep-shaded groves,

And continued all night in prayer to God. There has been a difference of opinion about this passage, whether it means that he spent the night in the act of praying to God, or in a place of prayer. The Jews had places of prayer, called oratories, built out of their cities or towns, where they could retire from the bustle of a city and hold communion with God. They were built on the banks of rivers (comp. Ac 16:13), in groves, or on hills. They were rude enclosures, made by building a rough wall of stone around a level piece of ground, and capable of accommodating a small number who might resort thither to pray. But the more probable opinion is that he spent the whole night in supplication; for —

1st. This is the obvious meaning of the passage.

2nd. The object for which he went out, was to pray.

3rd. It was an occasion of great importance. He was about to send out his apostles —to lay the foundation of his religion —and he therefore set apart this time specially to seek the divine blessing.

4th. It was no unusual thing for Jesus to spend much time in prayer, and we are not to wonder that he passed an entire night in supplication. If it be asked why Jesus should pray at all if he was divine, it may be replied that he was also a man — a man subject to the same sufferings as others, and, as a man, needing the divine blessing. There was no more inconsistency in his praying than there was in his eating. Both were means employed for an end, and both were equally consistent with his being divine. But Jesus was also Mediator, and as such it was proper to seek the divine direction and blessing. In this case he has set us an example that we should follow. In great emergencies, when we have important duties, or are about to encounter special difficulties, we should seek the divine blessing and direction by prayer. We should set apart an unusual portion of time for supplication. Nay, if we pass the whole night in prayer, it should not be charged as enthusiasm. Our Saviour did it. Men of the world often pass whole nights in plans of gain or in dissipation, and shall it be esteemed strange that Christians should spend an equal portion of time in the far more important business of religion?

{l} "And it came to pass" Mt 14:23 {m} "into a mountain to pray" Mt 6:6

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