*Theme Week – Jesus: John 17
Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 33 & 34
Psalms Reading: Psalm 93
This prayer. Oh if only we all prayed like this.
Jesus has been speaking with his disciples, trying to impart some final wisdom and direction before his death, leaving them with words of comfort for the trying days ahead that they can’t even comprehend yet. And then he follows that by praying with them and over them.
He starts off his prayer by glorifying God and asking that God be glorified through him. He’s requesting that everything he’s about to say and do be done for God’s glory, for his plan that he had from the very beginning of the world. From the very start of our existence God planned for his son to save us all. And Christ is recognizing that here, acknowledging that God’s plan and God’s glory come first.
Then he prays over his disciples, his closest of friends and followers. He has been pouring into them all that God has given him, and he’s praying that it all takes root, that his disciples take the message of salvation and spread it everywhere. He’s praying out his hopes for them, his love for them, his joy in them. How beautiful to see his love and passion for the people God has placed into his care and for his purpose. He prays not that they have it easy, not that they will live perfect lives, but that God will protect them so that they can do his good and perfect will. He prays they are in the world but protected, different from society and so like Christ.
And then, my favorite part. He prays for us! Jesus Christ prayed for each of us. He prayed for all believers, all those that would hear the message of salvation. He prayed that we, as believers, would be unified.
This is beautiful and also a little disheartening when I read it. Because I see how little we are unified sometimes. I see how we lose focus. Jesus spent this entire prayer to God focused on God’s plan and God’s glory. He wanted us to be unified in that. But how unified are we? Churches and Christians are so frequently distracted by the little arguments, the differences of opinions, that we lose sight of what Jesus’s greatest hope for us was. He wanted us to be unified in our faith, actively working to show God to others.
Personal confession time. I have some major personal issues with some people in my church. Some bitterness. Some anger. Some hurt. And I asked myself a few months ago how I was supposed to keep dealing with these people over and over again if all they were going to do was insult me and hurt me? And one Sunday morning, before I was supposed to be leading others before God in worship and adoration, I asked God. “How do I do this? I’m so tired of coming into church Sunday after Sunday and feeling like this. What should I do?” And I had the very clear image of Jesus smiling and welcoming Judas into his disciples. He walked and talked and worshiped and interacted with that man for months. And I thought, “Did he know? He knew he would be betrayed, but had God revealed to him who it would be even from first meeting? And if he knew, how did he do it!?”
But if Jesus could love Judas and interact with him on a near-daily basis, then I could love this person who angers and hurts me so.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still bitter, probably more often than I should be. But it’s something I’m dealing with and learning to set aside. Usually. It’s going to take more prayer I think. But maybe you have something in your life, or someone, that is keeping you from being unified with your fellow believers as well.
Take some time today and prepare yourself in prayer with me. Ask yourself:
What kind of prayer life do I have? Do I have a healthy practice of placing everything before God?
Am I putting God’s plan first in my prayers and in my actions?
How can I better pray for those around me? For the message of salvation to be spread through me?
Am I so focused on the tiny disagreements that I have with other believers that I lose sight of how I should be working alongside them?
What should be my specific prayer to God that would help unite me in his great purpose with other members of our church body?
My prayer for you today is that you spend time deep in prayer with God. Be specific. Analyze your heart and align your plans with God’s plan so that you can better show God’s love and glory to others. Pray that God’s plan be first. Pray over your family and friends that they show his glory and put God’s plan first. And pray over other believers, that they all be unified in spreading the gospel message of salvation to all nations.