The Inner Circle

“During that time, Jesus went to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them whom he called apostles.”

Luke 6: 12, 13 (Common English Bible)

John C. Maxwell, internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author, writes, “Nobody does anything great alone.”1 Maxwell identifies this as The Law of the Inner Circle—the understanding that those closest to you determine your level of success. One of the earliest teachings in the pages of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is that God intends that men and women live in a manner that includes God in their inner circle. Life isn’t to be a solo act, but one lived in the presence and guidance of our creator. Following this teaching, the Bible unfolds the narrative of lives that include God or those who chose to move forward without God. What comes into focus is that one choice results in life, the other death. A powerful plea is heard from the lips of God in the Book of Deuteronomy, “Choose life!”

In this teaching from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus goes to a mountain to pray. Jesus prays to God all night long. Jesus is including God in his inner circle. The content of Jesus’ prayers is soon disclosed—Jesus is seeking guidance for the extension of his inner circle. At daybreak, Jesus identifies and calls together twelve who will be called apostles. There is a night of prayer, and then there is a great decision. Our great lesson here is that our Lord took time to pray before he decided. Life also presents each of us with choices, choices that are personal and choices that are professional. Choices that may seem of little consequence and choices of considerable weight. Prayer always surrounds the choices of our Lord, and if we are truly wise, we will acknowledge that we are the stronger when God is included in all our decisions, small and large.

What did God do for Jesus in prayer? Prayer gave magnitude to the decision that Jesus would make. The choice of Jesus’ inner circle, the choice of the twelve that Jesus would teach, and mentor, and send into the world to share the Good News of God’s Kingdom, was a momentous decision. Prayer possessed Jesus’ mind of the gravity of this decision. Each of us is prone to live small lives with tiny purposes, lop-sided prejudices, and ambitions that rise no higher than a sunflower. As someone once said, the good is the enemy of the great. Without prayer, the gravity of decisions is reduced to little consequence. The natural result is a life that neither strives for something great nor achieves all God intends. Nothing kills the little things like our prayers.

Prayer also reaches beyond our own limited understanding of possibility. Someone once wisely commented that if we can ever grasp God and understand God’s mind, we must begin looking for another God. A God that we can comprehend is far too small to save us! Prayer to God, including God in our inner circle, is to draw upon insight and wisdom, and resources greater than what we possess. When we pray, we move into the realm of knowledge and possibility that we could never have imagined. Bigger ideas, bigger motives, bigger sympathies take possession of us. Prayer opens the windows of the soul to grandeur vistas where rich discoveries are made, and the heart is stirred to wonderous activity not before realized. Here Jesus teaches that the biggest outlooks come to those on their knees.



1 Maxwell, John C., The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, 25th Anniversary Edition, (Harper Collins Leadership, 2022) p. 135.

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