During our sermon series on prayer, we’ve studied the examples of Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, and Daniel. Today, we turn our attention to Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17:1-26). By listening to his prayer, we learn how to intercede for others. Jesus prayed for himself, his disciples, and for us.
Jesus prayed for himself (1-5). Jesus recognized that his time on earth was coming to a close. Rather than praying for strength, endurance, or an escape plan, Jesus prayed that his life would accomplish God’s purpose and bring him glory. He glorified God with his life, now he asks that he is able to glorify God with his death as well.
Jesus prayed for his disciples (6-19). Knowing that his departure is imminent, Jesus is concerned about his disciples (6-11a). He prays that God will keep them in his name (11b). Jesus is praying that they will remain loyal to God. He also prays that they will experience unity (11b), have joy (13), and that they will be protected while they live in enemy territory (14-16). Jesus doesn’t ask God to remove them from the world. Rather, he prays that they will live distinctly in the world.
Jesus also prays that his disciples will live holy lives (17-19). His statement reveals that God’s Word is central to growth in holiness (17). He emphasizes that holiness is needed for the mission of reaching the world with the message of the gospel (18).
Jesus prayed for us (20-26). Jesus prayed that his future disciples, the ones who would believe in the message. That includes us today. He prays that we will experience unity (21-23). It doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but it does mean we have the same focus and purpose. This is important because it demonstrates to the world that Jesus was sent by God. Jesus closes his prayer by asking that we would desire heaven so that we would see his glory (24-26).
As we consider how to pray for other people, Jesus’ example gives us five specific things to pray for. We should pray that other believers will:
- Accomplish God’s purpose and bring him glory
- Remain loyal to Christ
- Exhibit holiness
- Demonstrate unity
- Look forward to receiving glory in heaven
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 16, 2016. It is part of a series on Prayer: Moving Heaven for Earth. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.