By: Travis Stockelman
Have you ever had someone pray an especially meaningful prayer over you? You know, the kind of prayer that brings comfort after the loss of a loved one? Or the one that brings hope when you are going through a dark valley of life? Many who are reading this have been brought hope or comfort through the prayers of others. We know the power of prayer.
John 17 contains the so-called “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. It is the longest of the recorded prayers of Jesus. This is significant because I believe it reveals much about the heart of Jesus. One of the most amazing facts about this prayer is that Jesus prayed not only for Himself, but for His disciples—and for us. That’s right!
If you are a Christian, Christ prayed for you. Of course, He is always interceding for us (Romans 8:34). However, on this occasion, Jesus prayed for specific things for His disciples and for us. Let’s look at what Jesus asked the Father for us.
First, Jesus prayed that “they may be one, even as we are one” (v.11). That is, Jesus prayed that we would be united, not divided. This, I believe, involves a loving and gracious attitude among believers, even if we disagree on something or do something to make someone mad.
Second, Jesus prayed that God would keep us from evil. Jesus prayed that the Father would keep evil from us, so that it does not have a chance to destroy us, because that is what sin does. To keep us from evil is to keep us from sin. This goes along with the next thing that Jesus prayed to God for us.
Third, Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us. Not only does Jesus want to keep sin and evil far from us, He wants God to purify and cleanse our hearts, molding us daily into the image of Christ. Christ wants us to be sanctified, and so does the Father.
These are three great things—unity, freedom from evil, and sanctification—that Jesus prayed for us. But Jesus went farther than simply praying these things for us. His prayer alone is powerful, but Jesus went one step farther in providing the means for each of these things. His sacrifice provides the basis for Christian unity. His atonement on our behalf frees us from the snare of sin and evil. His death and resurrection make our sanctification possible. Only He could have done this, and He offers these things freely to all who will take them.