How Jesus prayed
This entire chapter is Jesus’ prayer. From it, we learn that the world is a tremendous battleground where the forces under Satan’s power and those under God’s authority are at war. Satan and his forces are motivated by bitter hatred for Jesus Christ and His forces, and especially all believers in Jesus.
Jesus prayed for His disciples, including those of us who follow Him today. Jesus’ prayer is a template we can use for our own prayer life; it also is a great encouragement to us today as it gives us an indication of how Jesus is praying for us now. (Compare Hebrews 7:25.) Jesus has already told us that, when the Holy Spirit has come to us, we can ask anything in the Name of Jesus and we will receive it and our joy will be full. (See John 16:23-27.) The same joy that Jesus knows can be in us too. (John 17:13).
Jesus prays for Himself first
Even though Jesus is God, He still had to ask for His desires to be met by the Father. He was asking the Father to restore Him to His original place of honour and authority. He wanted everyone to see the love of God through what He had done and was about to do. This should also be our prayer in everything we do. If the character of God is not evident in our actions, we should not be doing what we’re doing.
Jesus prays for His disciples
Jesus shares in a very matter-of-fact way with His Father, only speaking what is positive about His followers: how they have obeyed God’s word (John 17:6-8) and increased in knowledge (John 17:8). He prays for unity among the believers (John 17:11), asking the Father to protect them and use them while they are in the world (John 17:15), to sanctify them (set them apart for God) and to encourage them to believe and obey the truth (John 17:17). When talking to the Father about other believers, we too can be very specific. Do not talk about what they have done, but pray the same things that Jesus prayed for His friends. We know that such prayers have guaranteed answers.
Jesus prays for us
When Jesus prayed “also for those who will believe in me through their message” (verse 20) that includes us! Jesus prayed for us when He was on this earth and He is praying for us day and night right now! (Compare Romans 8:34.) He prayed above all else for unity, identical to the Godhead (that is, Jesus Himself, the Holy Spirit and the Father). This unity will demonstrate to the world that God has sent Jesus, because the love of God will be evident amongst united believers. Jesus wants the world to know that God lives in each and every one of us!
Always remember: use the name of Jesus (John 17:11). He will give access to the throne of God and back your prayer request, provided it is made in accordance with God’s own word.
Always base your prayer on God’s word. This is the will of God. (Compare 2 Timothy 3:16.) Ask God for a revelation from His word for every situation. Write it down and, when you pray, speak that word back to God.
Believe that you will receive (John 16:23). Do not major on the problem, major on the answer. Then be specific. Be fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has promised. (Read Romans 4:21.)
Forgive. This is a command of Jesus and, if we do not obey it, our prayers will not be effective. (Read Mark 11:24-25.) All we have to do is turn away from it. (See 1 John 2:1.)
Depend on the Holy Spirit for your leading. (See Romans 8:26.) As we become more in tune with God, we will pray more according to His will and less from our natural senses. His word contains more than enough evidence of what God is going to do!
Remember to pray in tongues on a daily basis in order to build up your spirit. (Read Jude 20.)
Pray for others on a regular basis. (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1) Follow Jesus’ pattern for praying and then rely on the Holy Spirit to show you new ways to pray, maybe for a specific nation or people or organisation.
God needs each and every one of us to pray at this special time in “HIS-Story”.
Unity and diversity
“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You.” John 17:21.
Jesus’ great desire for his disciples was that they should become one. He wanted them unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. Are you helping to unify the body of Christ or break it down?
- pray for other Christians – Psalm 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:10.
- avoid gossip, sometimes called “friendly fire” – Proverbs 16:28; 26:20.
- build others up – Romans 12:8.
- work together in humility – Philippians 2:3.
- give your time and money – Acts 10:2.
- lift up Christ – John 3:14.
- and refuse to argue over matters that divide us – 2 Timothy 2:24.
The teaching in the gospels is not so much about an organised unity but a unity of relationships, just like the unity within the Trinity referred to in the Scripture. Those relating to one another are able to offer encouragement, support, correction, fellowship, love and increased effectiveness. It is a spiritual unity with an outward expression so that other people can see it in practice.
The unity that Jesus is praying for is unity and diversity, as seen in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are all one God and yet have different jobs. An everyday example is a picture of the hand where the fingers all have different jobs but are all a vital part of the hand. If any finger tried to copy any other finger and do its job, it would cause confusion; certainly there would be no harmony. It might even end in injury to one part or all of the hand.
Unity is about relating to other Christians in love, sacrificially sharing our commitment to Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:3). We do not have to pretend that there are no differences, but we must recognise and respect them without focusing on them.
We must agree on the basics of the Gospel:
- The deity of Christ;
- The Bible being right in everything;
- The virgin Birth;
- Christ’s death for the sin of the whole world;
- Christ’s physical resurrection and return for the Church.
Unity is not oneness at the expense of the truth. We do not even have to find the lowest common denominator among people and sacrifice any basic doctrines. Certainly there are occasions when confrontation is necessary, but the end result should be restoration and growth. (Read Galatians 6:1).
The fundamental cause of fighting seems to be low self-esteem. We try to degrade someone so that we look better, feel more important or more valuable. The more confident we become of the truth in God’s word (who we are in Him), the more grace will abound in us and the more we will show to others.
Unity is vital to gain real victory over our enemy. The soldiers have misidentified the real enemy and are destroying themselves in killing Jesus. We have to make a choice not to fight with our brothers and sisters, but to love each other, so that we can be effective witnesses to the power of the gospel. (See Philippians 1:27.) This love should create a deep unity between believers.
- Pray for unity, as this is the heart of the Father. Philippians 1:3-11.
- Train in identifying the work of the enemy and being ready with an instant response.
- Remember that tiredness causes mistakes for soldiers! Ephesians 4:3.
- Discipline yourself at all times, choosing to be crucified with Jesus. 1 Peter 3:8.
- Keep lines of communication open. Proverbs 17:14.
- Grow up! Ephesians 4:13.
Always remember “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.
John 17:6-26 (Amplified Bible) – Jesus’ Prayers
6 I have manifested Your Name (I have revealed your very self, your real self) to the people whom You have given me out of the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed and kept your word.
7 Now (at last) they know and understand that all you have given me belongs to you (is really and truly yours).
8 For the (uttered) words that you gave me, I have given them; and they have received and accepted (them) and have come to know positively and in reality (to believe with absolute assurance) that I came forth from your presence, and they have believed and are convinced that you did send me.
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying (requesting) for the world, but for those you have given me, for they belong to you.
10 All (things that are) mine are yours, and all (things that are) yours belong to me; and I am glorified in (through) them. (They have done me honour; in them my glory is achieved.)
11 And (now) I am no more in the world, but these are (still) in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep in your Name (in the knowledge of Yourself) those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we (are one).
12 While I was with them, I kept and preserved them in your Name (in the knowledge and worship of you). Those you have given me I guarded and protected and not one of them has perished or is lost except the son of perdition (Judas Iscariot – the one who is now doomed to destruction, destined to be lost), that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now I am coming to you. I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them (that they may experience my delight fulfilled in them, that my enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have my gladness within them, filling their hearts).
14 I have given and delivered to them your word (message) and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world (do not belong to the world), just as I am not of the world.
15 I do not ask that you will take them out of the world, but that you will keep and protect them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world, just) as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them (purify, consecrate, separate them for yourself, make them holy) by the truth; your word is truth.
18 Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
19 And so for their sake and on their behalf I sanctify (dedicate, consecrate) myself, that they also may be sanctified (dedicated, consecrated, made holy) in the truth.
20 Neither for these alone do I pray (it is not for their sake only that I make this request), but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) me through their word and teaching,
21 That they all may be one, (just) as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that you have sent me.
22 I have given to them the glory and honour which you have given me, that they may be one (even) as we are one:
23 I in them and you in me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and (definitely) recognize that you sent me and that you have loved them (even) as you have loved me.
24 Father, I desire that they also whom you have entrusted to me (as your gift to me) may be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory, which you have given me (your love gift to me); for you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25 O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known you and has failed to recognize you and has never acknowledged you, I have known You (continually); and these men understand and know that you have sent me.
26 I have made your Name known to them and revealed your character and your very self, and I will continue to make (you) known, that the love which you have bestowed upon me may be in them (felt in their hearts) and that I (myself) may be in them.
Home challenges for Power Up! – No. 28: Let’s get together!
1. Are you encouraged when you hear others getting answers to prayer? Why?
2. Read the notes about Jesus’ prayer.
a) What example can you apply to your own prayer life?
b) Do you feel challenged to spend time in a private place with God?
c) Write down your agreement with God.
3. Read the notes about unity and look up the references.
a) Do you have any experience of receiving “friendly fire”?
b) How did it make you feel and how was it resolved?
4. What can you do personally to make sure that there is unity in your church?
Read John 18:1-11 also Luke 22:39-46
5. The olive grove in John 18:1 is the garden of Gethsemane. What was the support that Jesus asked the disciples to give Him?
6. What was the point in the disciples following His advice? (Luke 22:40-46)
7. What do you think of Jesus’ attitude to Judas and the soldiers?
8. Why do you think they fell to the ground? (John 18:6)
9. How do these verses in John and Luke show the love and submission of Jesus for and to his Father?
10. How does John 18:1-11 show the protection of Jesus for His own? Remember this if you are in a difficult position.
11. What do you think about Peter’s actions to help Jesus out and Jesus’ reaction? Have you ever tried to help God out?
Read John 18:12-27
12. What do you learn from the attitude of Jesus at His trial before the High Priest?
13. Consider Peter at this time.
a) How do you think he must have felt?
b) What is the difference between Jesus’ and Peter’s response to the crisis?
14. a) Have you ever been in a position where you denied knowing the Lord?
b) How did you feel?
15. What attitude of Jesus before Pilate impresses you the most? Pray that this attitude will shine through you the next time you are in a difficult situation.
16. Choose one verse from this passage and memorise it.
17. Try and sum up what you have learnt in one short sentence.