The seventh personal conversation that John records of Jesus is found in John 17; the Lord’s prayer. This is the longest prayer recorded in the New Testament and was prayed on the eve of the greatest challenge Jesus faced, His suffering and death for the sins of the world. It reveals what a life of prayer looks like. It teaches how to pray. It is the Mount Everest of the mountain range of prayer that runs through the whole Bible.
The main theme of this prayer is the theme of the life of Jesus; the glory of God. The first request gives meaning to the whole prayer, “…glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…” This is a prayer request with purpose, with a particular outcome, the glory of the Father. Much of our praying is to get a little help or for the relief of difficulty or pain, with the purpose of our comfort and ease. For Jesus, the glory of the Father was greater than anything else in His life. Jesus came to reveal the glory of the Father. As you read and study this prayer, notice the number of times Jesus refers to God’s glory. It is the foundation of His prayer. Everything He says and asks for rests upon His desire for God’s glory to be known.
Another thing you will notice is that for the length of this prayer, there are only a few requests. So many have learned to pray by listening to others pray who have not been taught to pray from the Bible. They shoot a barrage of requests at God as if He were an answering machine or some kind of eternal search engine. But the prayer of Jesus, like the prayers of the Bible, do not major on requests, but rather on relationship. This prayer is truly a conversation between the Father and His Son, which is what the Bible teaches prayer is to be. In a conversation, there are statements of revelation, of feelings, of joy, and of questions. Prayer is a conversation with the Father.
Jesus conveys the will of the Father in His prayer, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.” 17:6 – 7. There are no requests in that statement. It is simply a statement of the Father’s promise and will. Pray the promises and the will of the Father as revealed in His word.
One of the requests of this prayer is for unity; unity in relationship with the Father from His word, and unity in relationship for the followers of Jesus with Him and with each other. This is not something you hear much in prayers today, but it saturated Jesus’ prayer. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” The word “sanctified” is the Greek word hagiadzo, which means to make holy, like God. It is understood exclusively in light of the Old Testament and the Hebrew word, que-dosh, which describes God and those who are in right relationship with Him. This is a major request of Jesus in His prayer. Is it a major request of yours? It can be if you will learn to pray with Jesus.
Jesus ends His prayer with a vow, a promise. We are slow to make promises to God based upon our track record of breaking them. But when you make a promise to God based upon His promise revealed to you, relying on His presence in you, and the power of His word for you, it is always proper and highly recommended. A relationship with promises requires faith and faithfulness grows it. God has given you very powerful promises, and so can you, if they are based upon His. “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Today, allow the prayer of Jesus to shape yours. Ask for God’s Son to be glorified in your life, so that the Father’s glory may be known. Ask for unity with the Father in His word, and unity within the fellowship of believers in Christ. Surround these requests with the promises that God has made and the truth from His word. Promise the Father that you will…because this is His will. And remember, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24.