~ Guest Post by Keith Roberts ~
Prayer Text for Today is John 17
How would you like to hear Jesus pray? In person. Out loud. What would that experience do to you? How would you react to hearing the Messiah himself pray for you – out loud? How would it inspire and energize your own prayer life?
The Gospel of John presents the Bible’s most extensive record of Jesus praying aloud in chapter 17.
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed…”
As this stunning prayer unfolds for twenty-six verses, we overhear Jesus praying. He’s headed to the cross in a few hours, leaving his disciples behind with orders to extend his work to all nations. As he dies for them, some of them will later die for him. In the meantime, how will they cope with his absence? How can they withstand the persecution to come? How many will lose their faith; how many will stand firm? Will Satan overcome them and rip this newborn kingdom to pieces as it leaves the womb? At best, these men seem minimally qualified to be stand-ins for the Messiah himself. Therefore, Jesus prays. Here’s what he prays:
*That he will gloriously complete his Messianic mission – “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son might glorify you.” (17:1 NIV)
*That his disciples will be protected by the Name – “Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” (17:11 NIV)
*That they will be protected from the evil one – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” (17:15 NIV)
*That the Father’s word will set them apart as holy people – “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (17:16-17 NIV)
*That their future converts will live in unity – “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one…” (17:20-23 NIV)
*That they will be with the Messiah forever in heaven – “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…” (17:24 NIV)
*That the Father’s love will be in them, and the Messiah himself will be in them. – “I have made you known to them… in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (17:26 NIV)
This is pure intercession. It’s the strong praying for the weak, offering the sacrifice of intercession as the Great High Priest. Some Bibles actually title John’s record of Jesus’ prayer “The High Priestly Prayer”. Even now Jesus still prays like this. He’s still praying for us who walk the earth as disciples doing his will, the distant children of that apostolic generation in John chapter seventeen.
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)
And – in addition – the Holy Spirit eternally intercedes for us: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26 NIV)
Besides that, the church intercedes – millions of prayers a day ascend to the Father in heaven on behalf of each other. And – amazingly – Heaven is full of intercession! The saints of God who’ve gone on ahead of us pray continually in the throne room, according to Revelation 5:8; 6:9-11 & 8:3-5.
The universe vibrates with prayer. A massive flow of prayer goes from earth to heaven, intertwines with the prayers of Jesus, with the Spirit’s intercession, with the prayers of the ancient apostles and martyrs in Heaven and the constant intercessions of the church on earth.
When you pray, you are not alone. Like throwing a cup of water into the mighty Mississippi River, your tiny prayers get caught up in that massive prayer-flow and impact Heaven.
As your prayers – in Jesus’ name – reach the Father’s ears, they sound like the thunderous prayers of Jesus himself. To the Father, you sound just like Jesus! So keep on praying!
Keith Roberts and his wife Judy live in Calhoun, Louisiana where he is the longtime preacher and elder for the Church of Christ there. This church sponsors the annual Prayer Enrichment Workshop – a great event. Keith’s book Why God Waits For You to Pray is truly an excellent encouragement to a deeper prayer life (you can buy it at the link below!). Keith is available to do prayer workshops and always does a great job. I am grateful to have Keith in the same North Louisiana parish in which I reside and our time together is always beneficial! You can connect with Keith on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.