29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Prayer is given a central place by Luke in his Gospel. He begins his Gospel with an answer to Zechariah’s prayer. Anna spends her time in the temple “with fasting and prayer night and day.” The Spirit comes upon Jesus after his baptism when he is praying. Jesus withdraws from the community to pray. Jesus spends the night in prayer before choosing the twelve. He is praying alone when he asks his disciples the fateful question: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” He goes up to the Mount of Transfiguration in order to pray and is in prayer when “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.”
It is because the disciples see him in prayer that they ask Jesus to teach them to pray – in answer to which we get the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus teaches us to pray always and not lose heart. And Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is so intense that Luke tells us the sweat dripped off him like large drops of blood.
The 120 believers are gathered in prayer after the resurrection. They pray for boldness when they are threatened to silence – and their prayer is answered immediately. There is prayer for the Spirit, and prayer of intercession and prayer before healing.
Saul is in prayer after his encounter with Jesus on the road top Damascus left him blind. Cornelius is in prayer when the angel visits him, and Peter is in prayer at the house of Simon the Tanner when he has his vision of the net where no one is unclean.
What happens to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration happens in prayer. This is not just pious talk for Luke. He understands that deep and significant things happen in prayer – things that have much less to do with obtaining divine favors and much more to do with being guided and empowered.
And that’s what happens on the Mount of Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah speak with Jesus about his coming “departure’ (in Greek, ‘exodus’), the road that awaits him in Jerusalem.
There is a kind of prayer that intercedes for others, that asks for God to do something. But at its core, prayer is a deep listening, a communing, a syncing of our hearts with the heart of God.
We can see it on the face of others when they are troubled within. We can also see it when they are centered in God.