We are going to focus tonight on Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to help us learn better how we should pray. First, we see that Jesus’ prayer is focused, not so much on Himself, but on how He may glorify God in doing the work God has given Him. In verse 1 Jesus says, “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you”. As He prays for Himself, He prays that what He does would reflect back and bring glory to God. During Jesus’ time on earth, in all that He did, His purpose was to bring glory to God. We see this in verse 4, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do”. So, I think one thing we can learn from this is that when we pray for ourselves, thinking of all we have to do, that we pray that God will help us to do everything in such a way as glorifies Him. The chief end of man is to glorify God so should this not be a part of our prayers? We pray for help to do the job; we should pray that our work will bring glory to Him.
Second, in Jesus’ prayer, we see that He prays for His disciples – for the church, for God’s people. In verse 15 Jesus asks, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one”. In praying for God’s people, Jesus’ concern was for their spiritual well-being, specifically that they would be kept from the evil one, from Satan who goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can destroy. Further on, in verse 17, He prays, “Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth”. So, not only does He ask that God protect them, but to sanctify them, to set them apart. What is one of the means that God uses to set us apart from the world? God’s Word, which gives us direction and insight how we can interact with others around us without compromising and conforming to the world. When we pray we should ask that God protect us from evil, and keep us from temptation to sin. Also, we can ask God to sanctify us by His Word, which we are hopefully reading every day. We can ask Him to apply the Word preached each Sunday to our lives.
It is important to note that Jesus prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world” (verse 15). We are here for a reason; He has placed us here to do His will. Jesus could have taken His children with Him when He returned to Heaven. He left us here. We need wisdom how to live in this world, bringing good to those around us and glory to God. We should pray for a proper balance: we are not to be isolated from the world, yet set apart from it. I like the way the hymn puts it: “I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied.” Also, we pray for “a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at thy side. Content to fill a little space if thou be glorified.” Our goal in everything we do is to bring glory to God.
Third, in verse 20 Jesus prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word”. He is praying for the lost; that should be a part of our prayers as well. One of the reasons why God’s people remain in the world is