Christ's Prayer for Us
Old Testament Reading- Psalm 1
New Testament Reading- John 17:6-19
By Henry J. Rafferty CLP -May 16, 2021
IT FEELS GOOD WHEN someone tells you they will pray for you. Often, when someone needs help, we are unable to help them. Maybe they need surgery, or have a substance problem, or are having problems with a spouse. We could help in some of these matters to a small degree, but mainly we would need to pray for them. “All I can do is pray for you,” we say, and I usually tell people that is not a small thing but a powerful statement of action. I will pray for you means that I will ask the all-powerful God of everything to look out and especially help you in your time of need. Often when we pray for someone, we are praying because we do not know what to do or how to help, but we know that God does. Psalm 34:17 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
God listens to the prayers of the righteous. Righteous? That leaves us all out, right? All of us have sinned, and are therefore not righteous, so God won’t listen to my prayers, right? Wrong, what does our faith tell us? That if we truly repent and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then His death paid the penalty for sin once and for all and that if we continue to do our best, understanding that perfection is still not reachable, that God’s grace, His amazing grace sets us free, and we become children of God and considered righteous in His eyes. When we pray, God listens. God even listens when we pray for people who are not believers. When Job was suffering from his afflictions and his friends did not support him in his time of need, God was not happy. Job’s friends placed many words in God’s mouth and told Job that God was afflicting him due to his many sins, which was not what God was doing. Job 42:7-10 tells us, “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” So, we see, not only does the Lord listen to the prayers for ourselves, but also our petitions for others sakes. This is why we have prayer lists in the church. Often, we have no idea who we are praying for or even exactly why, but God knows and that is what is important. We are petitioning to the Lord on someone’s behalf, we are doing what we can do, and it is no small act.
Listen to what our New Testament lesson tells us today, John 17:6-19 says when Jesus prays to God, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me, and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
WOW, what a prayer, that is Jesus Christ praying directly for us, you and me! Let’s break down what this passage says. First, Jesus is having a conversation with God, letting Him know that He has given God’s word to His followers, He has taken them unto Himself and His followers have believed in what His message is, and they have recognized Jesus for what He truly is, the Anointed of God, the Messiah. The followers have also recognized that Jesus was sent by none other, than God. Jesus then begins to pray, not for the world, but for those that God gave Him as believers out of the world. Jesus prays for these followers that He has protected and nurtured while He was still here on earth, but that He will soon be leaving and going back to the Father, He prays that God protects them. He talks about not losing anyone that God has given Him except Judas Iscariot, who was foretold would betray Him. It tells also how the world will hate the followers because of God’s Word and Jesus prays that God not take them out of the world, but protect them from Satan, the evil one. Lastly, Jesus prays that God make holy His followers so that they may be like Him. What a powerful prayer and not once did Jesus pray for Himself, but for others. Imagine, our Lord desires us to be like Him, not below Him, but where He is, like He is, a benevolent being, not to rule or Lord over us, but to share in all of God’s love and glory forever.
Listen to the following passages of Scripture throughout the Old and New Testaments telling of the power of prayer:
Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Mark 11:24 Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Romans 8:26 Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
As you can see, prayer is a powerful act, something that God desires us to continually be doing so that we may actively participate in revealing the glory of the Lord. It is part of our learning process, how to humble ourselves to God’s will and to learn that even though we are not capable of God’s glory, we are active participants in it. Jesus prayed for our protection so that we may act without fear in witnessing to God’s grace, mercy, and amazing love. Jesus prayed for us, not just His followers of that time period, but all of us, even you and me. Imagine that you were talking to Jesus and He said that little phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” Could you really imagine it? Really? Believe it, because He did just that and He continues to pray for us to this very day, He is still in our corner, He is still praying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus is praying continually that you believe in the power of His name, that you receive the Holy Spirit, and that you do like He taught us, to pray to God on behalf of others. Thanks be to God. Amen.