In John 17 we see Jesus praying within hours of his arrest and subsequent journey to the cross. He knows that His death is imminent. This got me thinking. If I had my family gathered around me and I knew that I would soon die – and I had one last opportunity to pray for them – what would I pray? There are 5 things in this passage that Jesus prays both for His disciples and all believers that I think are very instructive in this regard. But I would not limit these prayers to death bed supplications. I would pray them regularly for those who are near and dear to us.
He prayed for protection from the evil one (v.11, 15) – Note that he was not just praying that they would be safe while traveling or protected from disease and dis-ease. Jesus knew they were in for the fight of their life – that a spiritual battle was being waged around them. One of my favorite quotes by John Piper goes like this: “You will never know what prayer is for until you know that life is war.” Protection from the evil one is a great prayer to pray.
He prayed that they would be filled with ever-increasing joy (v. 13) – Jesus was not praying that they would be happy. He was praying something much better. He knew that they would face much difficulty in the days ahead. He prayed that in the midst of the harshness of life that they would be filled and fueled with the joy of the Lord. And that this joy would then sustain them through everything that they would face. Joy in the Lord is a great prayer to pray.
He prayed that they would be sanctified by the Word of God (v.17) – To be sanctified means to be made holy. We were justified when God saved us and now He is in the process of sanctifying us – getting us ready for the day that we will be glorified upon death as we are escorted into the presence of the Lord – the Holy One! The Word of God is not only God’s primary instrument of salvation; it is also His primary instrument of sanctification. Jesus was praying that God would use His Word to daily make His disciples more and more holy. Sanctified by the Word is a great prayer to pray.
He prayed that they would enjoy unity as group (v.23) – There is nothing that turns unbelievers away from the church more than when they see believers who can’t get along with one another. Why would anyone want to be a follower of Jesus when Jesus’ followers don’t even like each other? So Jesus prayed that his followers would “be one as we are one.” There was a glorious unity among the persons of the Trinity that exemplified the unity believers are to have with one another. Unity is a great prayer to pray.
He prayed that they would experience God’s incredible love (v.26) – It is one thing to know that God love’s you. it is yet another thing to enjoy and experience the width and length and height and depth of the love of God – this love that surpasses all knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19). This is what Jesus’ wanted for His followers. So he prayed for them diligently in this regard because He knew that they needed this as they prepared for the mission that they were about to embark on. Experiencing God’s love is a great prayer to pray.
5 great ways to pray for those we love and care for. So let’s do more than just know what we should pray for – let’s actually pray!