Yesterday we looked atJesus prayers in the garden of Gethsemane and today we look a bit more deeply into one of Jesus’ final prayers.
This prayer in John 17 is such a long prayer that I have split it into two parts, summarising some key points and keeping it as brief as I can but I think that this is worthy of much further study, either alone or in your small group, when you have time.
Some have suggested that this prayer was actually spoken in the room after the Passover meal, others have suggested that it was in a quiet spot in the Temple courts and I had always assumed it was in the garden and had formed part of the prayers that Jesus prayed before his arrest!
This prayer has three parts,
1. Jesus prays for himself
2. Jesus prays for his close friends, his disciples and
3. Jesus prays for the wider church and all believers, including you and I
But today I will only reflect on the first part of the prayer you will need to wait until next time to hear my thoughts on parts 2 and 3.
Jesus initially speaks in the third person, sort of lost in prayer, and almost looking at his situation from the outside.
He asks that God would be glorified. That his own death and resurrection, the role for which he has come to Earth, would honour God and would cause people to worship God.
In fact, Jesus wants everyone to know God, the only true God, through himself, as the Messiah. The Messiah that all of scripture points towards.
And Jesus death is for the salvation of all people. The Hebrew words that has been used declares how universal Jesus prayer is, that ALL who believe may have eternal life. There are no exceptions.
Although Jesus had not quite completed the work he came to do in that he hadn’t yet died... the plan was in motion, Judas had gone to betray him, there was no turning back. This was it!
Then Jesus ends his prayer for himself with a request, or rather the anticipation of a return to the position he had before he became a human. It’s the anticipation of being with God again in heaven. It appears that Jesus is so at one with God that he is aware of something of the time before the world was even made.
When I compare this moment to that of Luke chapter 2 verse 52 where we are told that Jesus grew (on purpose, remember) in wisdom... and in favour with God, I marvel at the difference. That Christmas that Jesus was born, he wasn’t born all knowing! Through his life Jesus studied scripture, asked questions of teachers and learned what he could, but he also spent a lot of time quietly in prayer, talking and listening, learning directly from his Father, through the Holy Spirit so that at this point he slips easily into prayer becoming one in thought with God. Jesus’ heart and God’s heart is perfectly aligned.
If one of the purposes of prayer is to align my heart with God’s, I have to ask myself, how can I spend more time in prayer, talking and listening, learning directly from my Father in Heaven?
So often my daily prayer time is rushed, squeezed in around all the other tasks I have to do.
And so often I come to God with a shopping list. Please God, will you.. and then will you... Can you just... and would you... And while that is important, maybe there are times when I shouldn’t be asking for God’s help, but rather seeking what God wants me to do in that situation.
Yet, some of my most significant prayer times have been when I find myself sitting quietly in an attitude of prayer, not even speaking, simply waiting for God. If I wait long enough and still my body and thoughts enough I can feel God’s presence in the room.
Tonight let us set aside some time, make an appointment in your diary even and be still with God, allowing time for our hearts to come into alignment with God’s heart.