There are only two types of people in the world…those who feel weird and sweaty when people pray for them, and those who can pretty much mouth the prayer word for word with the person praying for them. As an introvert, I normally find myself categorized as the former. Have you ever wondered how you would feel if you could hear Jesus praying for you? I would feel more weird and sweaty than most prayers, but he would have my full attention. As we read in Scripture, that dude could flat lay it down at the Throne. We can draw from those biblical examples that his prayer had a little more extra “umph” to it than ours does. So then, to hear him pray for you or I would be some prayer wouldn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I would hinge on every word. I would remember his tone and inflection. I would pray in my own heart the same things that he is praying for me. I would never want to let myself do the opposite of what he prayed for in me. That prayer would drive my life. I would always remember and live by that prayer, never letting myself forget what he prayed for me. What about you? What would you think? How would you respond to his prayer for you?
Now read John 17:20-26. Guess who the subject of that prayer is? Some headings of that prayer in certain Bibles actually name it “the prayer for future believers.” Here Jesus is about to be arrested and go through the most gruesome death in human history…and guess who is on his mind? You and I. Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus actually prayed for YOU. That’s such an overwhelming thought when you truly understand the implications! So what do we do with this prayer? How are we supposed to live with that taken into account? Here are three ways this prayer should affect our lives.
- Value - Consider again when this prayer is being prayed. He is with his disciples for his last meal and his last intimate time alone with them before he dies. He knows Judas has left to betray him, his best friends have still no clue what is going on, and he knows the anguish, pain, mutilation, and humiliation that’s about to come upon him in just a few hours. He was so stressed out about all this that in just a couple more hours, Luke’s account will describeJesus’s sweat like they were drops of blood. But with the fate of the human race in his hands and the knowledge of pain and death in his head, we were on his heart! He prayed for you and I in the middle of his most difficult time! That shows just how important we really are to him! Think of when you’re going through your most difficult times. Who is on your heart and mind? You would probably say your spouse, children, parents, etc. But not Jesus. He was thinking about you and I. That’s a huge implication. That shows our value to him and just how much he loves us, and also how important unity is to him.
- Strive – Knowing what Jesus prayed for, you and I should be striving to live it out. Jesus’s prayer was for unity. For you and I, Jesus asked that we not only believe he is who he says he is, but that all of us in like-mindedness should band together for the cause. I find it odd how many people don’t know Jesus prayed a prayer specifically for them. Not much emphasis is placed on this prayer, and it’s because not many people strive to live it out. If unity is what Jesus prayed for it will certainly be attacked, which means we must strive to endure through it and make it happen. It was never going to be easy, or it wouldn’t have been prayed for. We must cultivate an intrinsic desire to be unified in all circumstances and still present the gospel in its purest form.
- Guard – As just mentioned, it’s rare that people actually know that Jesus prayed for them. If you look deeper though, you find that the very same thing that Jesus prayed for is the very same thing most churches don’t have. That’s because their definition of unity doesn’t match Jesus’s. Keep in mind that unity isn’t deciding the pew color or whose potato salad was best at the last pot luck. Jesus’s definition is gospel-centered. If we aren’t gospel-centered in our approach to life, we aren’t unified. The gospel teaches us to make disciples, do life together, and to grow spiritually through Scripture. Whenever our lives reflect this approach, we are living a gospel-centered life. Whenever we let preferences take over our actions instead of those gospel-centered decisions, that’s when disunity forms and the church implodes from the inside out.
It’s vital for us to be gospel-centered if we want Jesus’s prayer to be lived out. I don’t want to be the person who knows Jesus’s prayer for me personally, and then disregards it or doesn’t do my best to live it out. My prayer is that Christians see Jesus’s prayer for them also, and our hearts burn together in unity and we strive to live that prayer out every day. Now that you’ve been faced with the truth of his prayer, what’s your response?