Imagine praying effectively like Jesus did! John chapter 17 records for us the longest prayer of Jesus in the Bible. Theologians describe it as the “High Priestly Prayer of Christ.” This is the actual prayer Jesus prayed as He walked from the Upper Room after the Last Supper, on His way out to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would soon be betrayed.
Jesus was acutely aware that His death, resurrection and ascension to the Father meant His followers would be left behind to represent Him and His mission. He prayed that the Father would glorify Him by enabling His followers to do just that. As I considered how Jesus prayed, I was struck at how differently He prayed from the way we typically pray for others, particularly those near to us in the Body of Christ.
There are some things Jesus does not do in this all important prayer. He doesn’t ask the Father to solve all their problems and dilemmas. He doesn’t ask Him to fix everything that is broken. He doesn’t ask for God to make His loved ones financially secure or wealthy. It would not necessarily have been wrong to pray about such things, but He focuses on the things that are most important, the things which ultimately matter most to Him and which should matter most to us as we pray for those dearest to us. What does He pray for?
Jesus prays that His followers:
- experience the joy of intimacy with God (John 17:3, 13),
- that they be kept safe from evil influences (John 17:11, 15),
- that they be kept pure for productive service (John 17:17),
- that they be of one heart and mind in the family of God (John 17:20-21),
- and that they experience the presence of Christ and see His glory (John 17:24-26).
Oswald Chambers rightly speaks of intercessory prayer as “the ministry of the interior,” and cautions us against becoming “amateur providences” by dictating to God how He should work in the lives of others. One thing is for certain, we can be as effective in prayer as our Lord, if we pray His petitions for one another in Christ. Indeed, He has promised:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14 NIV
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7 NIV
What would happen if we prayed like Jesus for those near to us, and those not so near to us in Christ? If you can imagine it, let’s do it!