Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said . . . John 17:1a
Of all that Jesus did there was only one thing His disciples asked Him to teach them about, His prayer life. “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1ff.). The disciples didn’t ask Jesus how to teach or clue them in on the finer aspects of hermeneutics. They didn’t ask Jesus to teach them how they could do miracles or walk on water. They didn’t ask Jesus how to defend the faith. They didn’t ask Him how to conquer the world. No, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. There was something extraordinary and attention getting about Jesus’ prayer life. Of all that Jesus did, and all they could have asked Him to teach them, they chose to ask Him to teach them to pray. Wouldn’t you want to pray like Jesus?
We are about to look into the prayer closet of Jesus. We are about to examine the holy ground of John 17. We need to continue to keep in mind as we enter this chapter that the context is Jesus’ definitive teaching on the Holy Spirit (John 14-17). We need the Holy Spirit to understand this chapter and to apply it to our lives. Do you have the Holy Spirit within you? Have you been born again?
When Jesus responded to His disciples request to teach them how to pray, His teaching culminated with saying, “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). If you aren’t sure you are born again or have the Holy Spirit, our Helper, indwelling you right now, then by all means pause right now and prayerfully ask God the Father in Jesus’ name to forgive your sins and give you spiritual life by indwelling you with the Holy Spirit. You aren’t His unless the Holy Spirit is indwelling you (cf. Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Pause now and settle the issue. Simply ask His forgiveness for your sins based on your trust in Jesus redemptive work on the cross. The debt of sin is death. Bu the free gift of forgiveness and salvation from sin is through faith in Jesus (cf. Romans 6:23). Salvation from sin is right here for you now. God offers you spiritual life; eternal life right now. All you have to do is receive this wonderful gift; now. Then you’ll be able and suited for the journey of eternal life with Jesus.
Maybe you do know the Lord and have been born again but feel dry and distant from God. If you’re dry and running on empty ask the Father in Jesus’ name to refresh you in the Spirit. Ask His for personal revival. Ask Him to point out anything that is hindering your walk with Him and then repent where needed. Then move on in a Christlike prayer life. Lean on your Helper the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you and empower you to enjoy a dynamic prayer life; one like Jesus has. We need the Holy Spirit to help us pray. Wouldn’t you want the Holy Spirit to teach you and help you to pray? Pause now and ask Him in prayer.
In the book of Romans, chapter 8 is the pinnacle of that book and perhaps the entire Bible. At the heart of that great chapter of the Bible Paul teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit who will help us in our prayer lives. He says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). We need to the Holy Spirit to help us to pray.
The best way to learn something is to live it out. Jesus taught His disciples powerfully because He lived out His messages with them. They saw His teachings come to life each day. Throughout the gospels Jesus called people to “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 16:24; 19:21, 28; Mark 1:17; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27; 9:23, 59; 18:22; John 1:43; 8:12; 10:27; 12:26; 21:19, 22). It is one thing to tell someone how to do something. It is another thing to show them how it’s done. That is what Jesus does here in John 17. Here we see Jesus praying personally. Jesus said He was giving the disciples an example to follow when He washed their feet (John 13:15). Can we think He is doing anything less as He prays in the presence of His men? John the apostle said we should walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). Peter said we are to follow in Jesus’ steps (1 Peter 2:21). Both John and Peter were there when Jesus prayed His prayer in John 17. This prayer is recorded in Holy inspired Scripture for us to see and imitate. Jesus’ John 17 prayer is an example of how to follow our Savior Jesus in our own personal prayer lives.
Haven’t you ever wondered how Jesus prayed? Haven’t you ever wondered how Jesus approached His Father in prayer? What did Jesus say and do behind the closed doors of His prayer closet? Let’s pull back the veil of His holy room. John 17 is an open door into the prayer life of Jesus. Here we will see Jesus, God in the flesh; the Word made flesh, the Creator of the universe, our Savior and Lord, pray. It is with this great expectation that we approach this incredible chapter.
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven,” (John 17:1a). Jesus prays with His focus on the Father. Don’t miss this. The first thing John is inspired to reveal is his personal recollection of how Jesus prayed. Jesus has spoken to His disciples about the Father throughout John’s gospel. Now He turns to talk in prayer to the Father.
We often focus on our position in prayer; kneeling; standing; head bowed; hands clasped. But Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven” when He prayed. This is significant but not because we see a physical position of Jesus. It’s important because when Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven we see He is focused on His Father in heaven. His looking to heaven communicates “I’m looking to You. I’m focused on You Father.” That is more a position of the heart than a position of our body. Remember that, our prayers should begin with our focus needing to be on the Lord. When we pray we should direct our prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus as directed by the Holy Spirit.
The account continues, “and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,” (John 17:1b). Jesus prays with an objective to glorify God. Yes, Jesus prays and asks the Father to glorify Him. To be glorified in this sense means to fulfill His heaven sent purpose of paying the death penalty for the sins of the world; paying the price of redemption for sin on the cross. The Father is glorified as the Son Jesus fulfills His mission of redemption. God is always glorified when we fulfill our heaven sent missions.
Jesus transcendent objective is to bring glory to the Father. In what sense is the Father glorified here? It is the Father who is giving His Son. It is the Son Jesus who is giving Himself. And it is the Holy Spirit who is enfolding and unfolding this grand glorious God ordained plan of redemption for humankind. Similarly we belong to the Father. We are not our own. We have been bought with the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God gives us to be spent in this world for the lost. Our sacrifice is His sacrifice. We are not the Son of God; only sons and daughters of God. But it costs the Lord to give us in ministry. He loves us. It hurts Him when we suffer or go through trials in this life. God is not emotionless or without affect. God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Do you think God doesn’t grieve when He sees one of His children tortured, bludgeoned, beheaded? Do you think the One who says, “weep with those who weep” does not weep when we weep? (Romans 12:15). Ever think of that, really ponder and meditate on that? As we cooperate with His mission abiding in God’s love and living in His presence by prayer the Triune Godhead is revealed in and permeates our purposes. We become an “epistle”; the words and life stories in a living love letter from God to this lost world. God is glorified in us in this way; as we learn Him in prayer and live in His love. This glorifies God. At the end of your life will you be able to look back and see a life lived for the glory of God?
This puts a pure perspective on prayer. Someone has said, “Prayer is not the way to get God to do our will in heaven. Prayer is the way to get man to do God’s will on earth.”  That’s how Jesus prayed; to fulfill God’s will on earth. That’s how we should pray; to get people (including ourselves), to do God’s will on earth. If we do that, we will glorify God.
Jesus continues, “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). Jesus prays in the authority given Him by the Father. Just as Jesus operated in the authority of the Father we operate in the authority Jesus gives us. Jesus emptied Himself when He came to earth so that He would give us an example of how men might live (e.g. Philippians 2:1-11). And now Jesus has commanded us to go and complete the “greater works than these” to fulfill the heavenly mission (John 14:12-13). Jesus has commanded us to go into all the world in His name in His authority and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20); disciples known by His love (John 13:34-35). He has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to do that (e.g. Acts 1 and 2). When we pray we pray in the authority of Jesus; we pray in His name.
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). Jesus prays for the eternal life of others. That eternal life is described by Jesus as a personal relationship with God. “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Eternal life is not just forgiveness for sins so that a person can get into heaven. That is a necessary part of it. But there is a greater broader deeper definition of eternal life and that is knowing God and Jesus.
The word “Know” (Greek ginosko) means to have an awareness of, to feel, to perceive, to understand, to be sure, to speak to, to have knowledge of and/or be conscious of. This is a word that implies an experience and relationship with someone. You are aware they are present, you feel for them, you perceive their feelings, you understand what they are about, you interact and speak with them, you are conscious them. Do you know God and Christ? That is what eternal life is. Do you know what gives Jesus pleasure, what brings Him joy, what grieves His heart? Do you know what is important to Him? Do you know the things He wants to be a part of? Do you know the things he doesn’t want to be a part of? Do you know how He would do things? Do you know how He loves? That is what our objective should be for ourselves and for others in our prayers.
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:4-5). These verses reveal the perspective Jesus had in prayer. Jesus prays from a position of victory. Jesus had yet to go to the cross but He prayed as though he had already gone to the cross and completed His mission. That is an important perspective to adopt for our prayers. We don’t fight for victory; we fight from a position of victory. The end result is secure in the Lord. Jesus had a rock solid confidence and trust in His Father and the Spirit that He would accomplish that for which He was called to do. That should be our perspective in prayer too. God will do in and through us what He has purposed to do.
This is what the apostle Paul meant when he was inspired to write that Christians are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37-39). How is that so? By faith in God; Jesus trusted in the Father and the Spirit to empower Him to complete the most difficult part of His mission; the cross. We too must trust the Lord; that the Holy Spirit will empower us to complete the life tasks He sets before us and calls us to do.
There is an aspect of Jesus’ prayer which we cannot apply to ourselves. We are not God incarnate. We are not the Second Person of the Trinity. So we do not pray for the Father to glorify us like we were glorified with Him before. When we pray we pray only for the Lord to be glorified. In everything we do we should do it with the purpose of glorifying God (e.g. 1 Corinthian s10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23-24).
Jesus prayed from a point of completion of His mission. Jesus prayed from a point where He finished the work He was assigned. A lot of times we start out with a commitment to God but then don’t finish it. Jesus finished what He came to do. We’d still be lost if He left the cross an unfinished loose end. He came to go to the cross and to the cross He went. He came to rise from the dead and from the dead He rose. Have you finished those things you’ve set out to do for the Lord? Have you finished what God has called you to do? (cf. Ecclesiastes 5). When we finish our God given mission tasks it brings glory to God.
Have you completely dealt with an area of sin in your life that the Lord has been talking to you about? Or have you done only a haphazard incomplete job of dealing with it; putting it to death? In the Old Testament King Saul was instructed by the LORD to wipe out the Amalekites. He disobeyed and let some live. It was an Amalekite that killed him in the end (1 Samuel 30). It was an Amalekite that almost annihilated Israel through a plan of genocide (Esther 3:1). If you leave loose ends it will come back to bite you. Finish what God directs you to do.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. (John 17:6-7). Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name.” Jesus prays for those He has invested in relationally. The word “manifested” (Greek phanero) means to shine forth. The idea is not, “so much declaration as it does illustration. . . . [not] “I have preached about it verbally,” but rather, “I have lived it out observably.” Jesus prays for those He has lived and spent time with. We can pray with greater wisdom and knowledge when we pray for those we have interacted with. Relationship preceded effective praying. Praying edifies and enhances relationship. Relationship and prayer are a symbiotic relationship; both feed off each other.
Jesus prayed for others with an awareness that they belonged to God. The disciples belonged to the Father and to Jesus. No one belongs to us. When we pray we need to understand that we are praying for people that belong to God and are under His sovereign watch. We never pray for people as though they were our property. We intercede on behalf of others from the perspective that they belong to God.
“For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. (John 17:8). Jesus prayed for others to receive the right words at the right time. Jesus said the disciples had received His words and that they had believed that the Father sent Him. Jesus got His words from the Father; “which You have given Me.” This is something significant to recognize.
The word “words” is translated from the Greek term rhema. Rhema means a word spoken and implies an appropriate word. Rhema is a word from the Lord; the right word from the Lord at the right time. Rhema is a word directed by the Spirit to address a particular situation with a person. Jesus spoke a rhema word to the woman at the well when He informed her she had not one husband but five and the one she was living with was not her husband (John 4). Jesus spoke a rhema word to the Pharisee Nicodemus when Jesus told him “You must be born again” (John 3). Jesus spoke a rhema word to the woman caught in adultery when He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8).
The only way we can speak a rhema word is by the enabling and leading of the Holy Spirit who helps us to do so. Jesus said, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:19-20). That is the idea of a rhema word.
When “Christians” shout offensively at people caught up in sin they aren’t doing God’s work or fulfilling God’s will. They are merely venting their own petty angers. Whatever we speak and especially when we speak the truth of God’s word, we are to speak it in love. There is no other way to speak for God than to speak what He gives us in His love to others (cf. Ephesians 4:15).
When we pray we should pray that the Spirit helps us and others to receive God’s scriptural word. But we should also pray that we and others receive a rhema word or a word from the Spirit that is right for the moment and circumstance; the right words at the right time to people. And we should pray that the words received would lead people to a belief in Jesus.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. (John 17:9). Jesus focused His prayers on His disciples. When Jesus says He doesn’t pray for the world it doesn’t mean He never prays for the world. He came to save the world (e.g. John 3:16). This prayer contains prayers for people in the world (John 17:23). So what does Jesus mean?
The term “world” (Greek kosmou) can refer to planet earth, or humanity, or a world system. When Jesus says He doesn’t pray for the “world” here He is saying He doesn’t pray for a world system. Jesus didn’t pray to change a system of government in the world. Instead He prayed for those who have answered God’s call to exit world systems and live the life of a disciple. We may live in such systems of government, but we are not of them; we live by God’s higher standard; by God’s word. Our citizenship is first and foremost in heaven (cf. Philippians 3:20).
Jesus priority is to bolster with prayer those who have followed Him and are His disciples. We should not neglect praying for those who have accepted the Lord as though everything that needs to be prayed for them has been accomplished. Those who follow Jesus still face temptations and the attacks of the enemy. We need to pray for one another in the body of Christ. Anyone who knows Jesus knows this to be true.
“And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”
(John 17:10). Jesus prays for the unity of believers. Jesus prays to the Father on behalf of His disciples who will be left in the world behind Him. He prays to the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” Then Jesus prays to the Father that His disciples would “be one as We are.” One of the greatest concerns of Jesus for believers in the world is unity. This is the first thing Jesus prays for on behalf of His disciples. The history of schism and conflict within the church throughout history shows us why Jesus included this petition in His prayer. The church historically is too often more carnal than spiritual. Historically the church is more Corinthian than crucified with Christ (cf. Galatians 2:20). Jesus taught, “A house divided against itself will fall” (Luke 11:17). The enemies’ most effective tactic is to divide and conquer. Are you praying for the unity of believers? You should be. The unity of believers should be one of our top prayer priorities.
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:12-13). Jesus prayed that His joy would be fulfilled in His disciples. Joy is the assurance and stabilizing comfort that no matter what trial, source of confusion or calamity one is experiencing, God is still in control. God has a plan and He will complete that plan. That is good to know when all hell is breaking loose around us. Pray for others that their joy would be fulfilled in a close deep abiding saving relationship with Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Judas chose to become “a devil” (John 6:70). It’s not likely Judas was ever saved. He walked in the group of Jesus disciples, but he was never one of them. Just because you come to church or hang out with Christians or disciples of Jesus doesn’t make you one. You may spend time with Christians, but are you one? Do you “know” Jesus? That is what eternal life is.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Jesus didn’t pray for His disciples to be taken out of their difficulties, He prayed they would be protected through them. Difficulties and trials are the instruments through which a strong faith is built (e.g. 1 Peter 1:6-9). Therefore Jesus doesn’t pray for His people to be removed or spared difficulties and trials, only that they would be kept safe from the evil one who tries to use the circumstances of life to destroy faith and life. Next time you are going through a difficulty don’t forget to pray for God’s will to be done; for His purposes to be fulfilled in and through whatever He has ordained to happen.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:17-19). Jesus prayed for His disciples to be sanctified in the truth of the word of God. “Sanctify” (Greek hagiadzo) means to make holy, purify, consecrate, sanctify, to make distinguishable from the common, and /or to set apart for service. Jesus’ ministry and this prayer are filled with references to the use of the word of God in His disciple’s lives. Jesus prays to the Father for His disciples to be helped to apply the Holy Bible to their lives. He prays for God’s word to distinguish them from the world just like Jesus was distinguished from the world. Jesus was sanctified. His disciples should be too. The best definition of what it means to be sanctified is “that you love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Pray to God for your own sanctification. Pray for others to be sanctified in the word of God.
The term translated “word” (Greek logos) means simply statements, words, message, declaration, etc. But Jesus identifies this word as “Your word” or God’s word; the written word of God; the Bible. Jesus particularly referred to God’s word as “truth.” “Truth” (Greek aletheia) means free from error, dependable, integrity, and true. God’s word, the Bible is free from error; it is inerrant. The Bible is our source of truth: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth. . . . The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:142, 160). The truth of God’s word is the scalpel with which the Spirit performs spiritual surgery on us. The truth-full word of God is our manual for life. And that word will go with us into eternity. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
Jesus died so that we might be sanctified. Jesus died to make us individually holy – “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). We are righteous through faith in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). When we put our faith in Jesus as Savior our sins are forgiven and Christ’s righteousness is put to our account. But because we are spiritual birthed when we accept Jesus as Savior (e.g. John 3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5-7), we are to put off the “old man” of sinful ways and put on the “new man” of Spirit led ways (e.g. Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:12-17). Once we are saved from sin there is a new continuing Christlike walk in the Spirit that we are called to live (e.g. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:1-6). This is a new way of life, a life set apart for God’s use, is the sanctified life.
Jesus died so that corporately we would be a glorious blemishless church bride. No pock marks on this bride. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Jesus died to make us “holy, and blameless, and above reproach” (Col. 1:22). The blood of Jesus scrubs us clean of sin (Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). If Jesus shed His precious blood to cleanse us and free us from sin, then we ought to seek living the sanctified life that fulfills His purposes in us.
Remember, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). God’s word is full of His truth because God the Holy Spirit inspired it through holy men of old (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). The Holy Spirit is the One who uses the truth-full word and works this sanctification in us. That is why He is called “the Holy Spirit.” There is a “sanctification of the Spirit” that we are to surrender to and seek to have worked in our lives (1 Peter 1:2). “Sanctification by the Spirit” is something that is done through “belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Living holy involves growing in the fruit of the Spirit which is love (Galatians 5:22-24). The Holy Spirit pours His love into us when He enters us at our spiritual birth (Romans 5:5). The maturing of the Spirit’s love in us is the best definition of sanctification (1 Cor. 13:4-12).
Therefore, to be sanctified means to be sided with the truth of God’s word in contrast to falsehood that opposes God’s word. To be sanctified means to have a Biblical world view. It means to look at the world through the lens of scripture. God’s word helps us make sense of this fallen world. God’s word gives us direction and purpose in life. We have meaning and worth based on God’s word. The word of God is the determining factor in what is sanctified and what is not sanctified. You can’t discard God’s word and be acceptable to God.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;” (John 17:20). Jesus prays for you and me and all those who believe in Him through the historical ministry of His followers. Jesus prays for you and me. He is praying for our sanctification and preservation. He is praying for you and me right now – as you read this. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercessions for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Just think of it, right now, Jesus is praying for you. That should be a great comforting thought. Have you come to Jesus? Have you repented of your sins and asked the Father’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ? Have you been born again? Have you received spiritual life? Does the Holy Spirit live in you enabling you to closely abide in Jesus? Jesus has a perfect plan for you. He wants you to spend eternity with Him. The life in Christ is a wonderful life. What are you waiting for? Jesus is praying for your salvation right now. And if and when you do know Him He will continue to pray you through to eternity with Him. When you feel all alone or are tempted to despair, always remember, Jesus is praying for you!
Jesus continues, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:21-23). Jesus prays for all Christians in all ages to be united and that the world would believe in Him through the testimony of that unity. Unity is so important in Jesus’ prayers. He emphasizes it by repeatedly mentioning it in His prayer. The unity of believers is one of Jesus’ greatest concerns. That’s because the world will come to know Jesus through the testimony of the unity of the church. IN the church there should be unity; no racial, cultural, ethnic, economic, intellectual, gender or any other division. We are to be one in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
In our brittle fragmented world the church should be a shining example of how people can come together into one God’s family united and abiding in the love of Jesus. The united church is a POWERFUL instrument of God in a fragmented fighting world. It’s no wonder that the unity of the church has been so persistently and unfortunately effectively attacked by the enemy. Whenever there is disunity in the church amongst believers it takes away from the churches effectiveness to reach the lost and tarnishes the name of Jesus. What a tragic and stupendous lost opportunity when the church is divided or bigoted in some way. Pray for unity in the body of Christ.
Please don’t mistake what I mean when I speak of unity in the church. I am not saying the church should overlook or condone sin. The church should not overlook or turn the other way when willful rebellious sin tries to establish itself within its walls. Paul dealt firmly with such situations (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-12). There is no place in the church for the ordination of immorality. The standard of the church is the word of God. What the word of God calls sin the church must call sin. To disregard scripture and follow sinful secular trends is offensive to God. But just as Paul advised to welcome back those who repented of their sin so should the church (2 Corinthians 2:6-9). The goal of the church should always be reconciliation and restoration (cf. Galatians 6:1).
Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). But love does not overlook sin. Love speaks truth (Ephesians 4:15). It was Jesus who told the sinful woman to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). The church reaches out to the sinner with a powerful gospel that provides forgiveness for sin as well as changed lives with the power to overcome sin (Romans 1:16-17). The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ enables “fornicators . . . idolaters . . . adulterers . . . homosexuals . . . sodomites . . . thieves . . . covetous . . . drunkards . . . revilers. . . [and/or] extortioners” to have said of them, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). To those we say, no matter the background, praise the Lord and welcome to the family of God.
Grace is extended to those caught up in sin and struggling with it. The church ministers to those in the battle against the flesh and sin. The church needs to disciple and help people to live Jesus’ abundant life. The end product and aim of the church is for its members to come to a life of victory in Christ. Unity should never cost complacency or condoning sin. That is to cheapen what the church is. No, unity is made up of those who like Paul say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:24-26). Jesus concludes His prayer in worship. Jesus ends His prayer in a final petition that His followers would one day be with Him in glory and see His glory. And Jesus prays and associates that glory in the love between Him and the Father. Jesus exults in the Father’s love. Jesus proclaims the righteousness of the Father. He worships and requests that people would come to know the love of God. That is how we should conclude our prayers.
When we end our prayer time with God we shouldn’t just get up and leave. We should end our prayers in worshipping the Lord for His love and grace all to His glory. Maybe we should get into a holy habit of ending our prayers with a time of worship singing something like the Doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above the heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Or maybe we could praise Him with words like the Gloria Patri, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Amen.” If that is too formal or conjures up dark religious memories, then maybe as we close in prayer we should pause and ask the Spirit how we might bless Him with worship. Why not ask Him to bring to our mind and heart a song that would please and bless Him. Whatever you do, end your prayers like Jesus did, in worship.
Jesus prays. Do you pray? How do you pray; like Jesus? What do you pray for; what Jesus prays for? How do you end your prayers; like Jesus did? Is the Holy Spirit in you guiding you in prayer? Have you been born again? Jesus lived a wonderful and glorious prayer life. Such a prayer life attracted the attention of those around Him. Let’s seek the Lord to help us pray like He prays. Let’s pray to the glory of God.