Jesus prayed after hearing the report of the seventy:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
Reflection from Barb Kreski:
I was struck upon first reading this, by the tone of surprise in the report of the seventy when they returned to Jesus. They credit Jesus (“In your name”), but they are clearly impressed that even demons submitted to them when they were working under Jesus’ direction. They believed Jesus enough to go forth and preach, but they were overjoyed at what their believing and their efforts resulted in.
And then, in a similar way, Jesus prays to his Father and expresses his joy and thanks. Now surely Jesus believed and was not surprised, but he does seem delighted to experience that he could deputize people who were relatively naïve to do his work successfully. He not only listened to their report, but he seems to have watched their impact as he says he saw Satan falling from heaven. He was overjoyed and grateful. This was an important success as Jesus knew he would not be able to do all of the work himself. He rejoiced in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in his own power.
I pray, and I think I believe. So why am I surprised when I feel my prayer has been answered? I don’t know the reason, but I certainly have experienced this. Maybe it has something to do with the ways the Holy Spirit works---non-linear and not clear except sometimes in hindsight. I like the reminder in this passage that this part of the nature of God, the Spirit, brought joy and appreciation to Jesus in his work. I think the reminder can apply to us as well.
Holy Father, great and good, thank you for being all things to us. Thank you for the moments when I glimpse the divine acting in my life and for what must be so many more times when I am unaware but still impacted. My prayer is for more awareness and more joy in my life and in the lives of all the people of this troubled world. Please let the Holy Spirit work in the ways only you can identify as the best to soothe and inspire us, and to overcome evil.