MONDAY, JULY 10
SCRIPTURE: John 17
We often call the prayer we find in Matthew 6, the Lord’s Prayer. You know it is the one that begins with: “Our Father who art in heaven”. Because it is certainly a prayer from our Lord, there is nothing wrong with calling it that. But as you think about that particular prayer, it really does seem to take on the nature of a model prayer. It is Jesus teaching us to pray.
With that as a background, this prayer that we find in John 17 may actually be the Lord’s Prayer. It is often referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer” but I truly believe it may best be defined as the Lord’s Prayer. It is a most intimate look into a very personal conversation between Jesus and the Heavenly Father.
As you begin this amazing chapter, I think it is important to look at the last words of John 16. There Jesus said, “I have overcome the world”. The reason that is important is the word world is used some 19 times in John 17. Regardless of the efforts of the world to put down Jesus and drag people away from the truth, Jesus has already overcome that. And through Him, we are overcomers as well.
In the first five verses, Jesus prayed for Himself and talked with His Father about the fact that His work on earth had been completed. We should never hesitate to pray for ourselves.
In the next section of the prayer (verses 6-19), Jesus prayed for His disciples. Specifically, His prayer for them was that the Father would keep them and sanctify them. In other words, He asked the Father to guard them or protect them and to set them apart from the world. That doesn’t mean they were supposed to segregate themselves from the world. When we do that, we have no opportunity to share the gospel with anybody but our own offspring. The disciples were most certainly going to be in the world but they were not supposed to be of the world. That’s part of the significance of the Father sanctifying them.
The third section of the prayer (verses 20-26) is actually Jesus praying for you and me. Isn’t that just the coolest thing? Jesus prayed for us! He prayed particularly for our unity. In verse 23, Jesus said our unity is actually evidence of His identity and mission. That means when Christ followers are fighting and bickering and fussing and treating each other badly, we are in effect saying Jesus isn’t who He said He was and that His mission was a scam. Our unity, on the other hand, is undeniable, inarguable, evidence of the identity and mission of Jesus.
He ends this section with a request that we might know God’s deep, deep love. Remember the Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins”. So, maybe this love is the key ingredient for our unity.
So, why did Jesus pray this prayer? Undoubtedly, He was preparing Himself for what was about to happen. He was just hours away from being arrested which would be the start of His horrible mistreatment and eventual crucifixion. Hebrews 12:3 teaches that as Jesus thought about the joy that awaited Him and us, He gained the necessary strength to endure.
You know, sometimes I get so trapped in the muck and mire of it all that all I can see is what I’m stuck in. And if that is all I can see, it is almost impossible to see how I can ever get out of that. The only way out is to look up. Moving forward always requires a change in focus. Thinking about the joy of the Lord and the glory that is to come is the way out.