Prayer should be a vital part of every Christian’s life. Prayer is powerful and as believer’s we need to pray because it is a gift God has given to us to communicate with him. As we look at the life of Jesus He not only tells his disciples they should but he also modeled prayer in his life here on earth.
Today I am focusing on all of John 17 and I want to look at the prayer of Jesus or as it has become known as the High Priestly prayer. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Gospel of John. Here we get a glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. This is an intimate moment in which John was witness and he in turn shares with us. It is a beautiful prayer and today it is my goal to look at it in a deeper way and see how we as followers of Jesus are direct beneficiaries of this prayer.
The chapter begins with Jesus looking to the heavens and praying to the Father. This is believed to be the common stance for prayer (not the way we do it today with hands folded, heads bowed and eyes closed).
“The hour has come…” is referring to either his death or the resurrection and ascension (glorification).
The Purposes of Jesus’ Prayer
- To pray for himself (Verses 1 – 5) - Jesus prays for himself so He may glorify God. He prays that through his death on the cross the Father will be exalted above all. He prays this not so much as a request but having complete understanding that something is going to happen. In his death God will be exalted above all as he accomplished or completes the plan of redemption for those who belong to the Father. In his death God will be glorified because Jesus makes available eternal life to those whom God has given to Him.
Eternal life is more than just going to heaven when you die. It’s about knowing God and Jesus. It is not just acknowledging with intellectual belief but it is entering into a relationship with the Father that does affect every aspect of life here on earth. Part of the plan of redemption is for Jesus to establish a relationship with those who will believe. I have said it numerous times eternal life begins here on earth and continues through we are in the presence of the Father.
- So He may be glorified in the presence of the Father: This could imply that Jesus’ pre-incarnation glory would be restored to Him through his obedience on the cross and the people will see that He is truly who He claims to be. “Glory that I had with you before the world existed.” This is clearly a reference of the eternal existence of Jesus (He is not a created being but was present at the time when all was created) and the glory he shared with the Father.
- To pray for the disciples (Verses 6 – 19) - He is not praying for the world (those who do not belong to Him). He prays for those who belong to God. He simply prays for them because they belong to the Father. Jesus gave them the words of the Father, they received and believed the words and ultimately came to know the truth.
He prays to keep the disciples that they would be preserved or kept secure and not leave the fold. Jesus prays for their security and they have it since Jesus asks the Father for it.
He prays for their unity Not only is Jesus asking the Father that the disciples be unified relationally but that they would be unified or become one just as the Father and Son are one in faith.
He prays that their joy would be complete. Jesus prays that they would find joy in Him and not in the world and that they would have true and complete joy which only God can give.
He prays to keep them from the evil one. The disciples were protected from the evil one. Certainly Satan would try to rob them of their joy and to convince them to turn away from Him. Jesus has prayed that they would be secure in salvation and that they would experience true joy (which nobody can take away).
- To pray for the Church (Verses 20 - 26) - Jesus prays for those who will believe by the testimony of the disciples (this includes us). This is what amazes me most; Jesus prayed for you and me in this prayer and he is specific in what he prays for. He prays the same as he prayed for the disciples.
He prays for unity among believers (Church body). Jesus prayed that we would be unified or be as one as the Father and Son are one. We are to be of one mind, one body (with many parts) and through our unity and love for one another the world will see that we belong to Jesus.
He prays to have complete joy in Him. We have the complete joy of Jesus available to us today. Let us live in the joy of Jesus. Let us begin or continue to live as though we believe this.
He prays for protection From the Evil One. Jesus continually intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25)… not only did Jesus intercede for us but continues to intercede. Through Jesus we can and will live victorious Christian lives. The scriptures say that Satan is the accuser of the brothers (Revelation 12:10). In fact it says Satan accuses the brothers night and day before God. Yet Jesus intercedes for us (Romans 8:33 – 39)
He prays that his love will be in us. Jesus prays for unity, joy, protection and for his love to be present in us.
Isn't it wonderful to know we are prayed for? Whenever I am in a spiritual dry spot in my life I am reminded that I am not alone in a Spiritual desert. Jesus is praying for me. There is cause to rejoice in knowing that our Lord and Savior is continually interceding for us. The accuser, Satan, will try all he can to cause division, to steal our joy, cause us to live in fear and doubt. We have to know and believe that we are victorious. Remember last week we see Jesus is the overcomer of the world and thus we are overcomers as well. It is important for us as believers to live in unity, have a joy that cannot be taken away and have confidence (that if you are TRULY a follower of Jesus) in knowing we are secure because the Savior intercedes for us diligently before the Father.
There is great comfort in knowing we are prayed for thus it is imperative that we continue to be people of prayer as well. Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples to pray and not pray himself. Jesus modeled prayer because He wanted us to know the importance of prayer as well. Let us become passionate pray-ers for perfect unity in the body of Christ. Let us learn today that as with anything we cannot just talk about prayer, we must be people of prayer.