A Prayer for All Time

J.R. Waller, MBA

Key Points

  • Jesus' prayer during his farewell discourses teaches Christians to remember the importance of Christian unity, the many attributes of His relationship with us and the unequivocal gravity of world evangelism.
  • Prayer is a primary attribute in the Christian life, and is the line of defense against any all challenge no matter how insurmountable they appear.

20) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:20-26 (KJV)

This prayer by Jesus is the culmination of what some refer to as His “Farewell Discourses” beginning in John 14 and concluding in John 17 with this prayer.

In fact, John 17 contains three prayers. In the first Jesus prays for Himself, the second prayer is for the disciples and this prayer is addressed to and is for all believers.

It is important to note that this prayer happened moments before Jesus was arrested and betrayed. After this prayer He left for Gethsemane where Judas would betray Him.

It is awe inspiring to think and know that moments before Jesus’ trials began He was thinking and praying for us, for His disciples and for the world. It demonstrates the priority of prayer. When trials come we must pray first and foremost for that is what Jesus did. However, in practice many do not start with prayer, instead they rush to their own conclusions and strength in all of its limited power and knowledge.

In addition we must note that Jesus’ prayer was not just for the believers and the world at that time in history, but for all believers through all of the human history to come. He was praying for you and me.

The prayer is strikingly powerful in many ways as it gives a glimpse into Jesus’ relationship with God the Father, into His future plans for the spread of the gospel and by showing the great care He has for us, His children.“It is awe inspiring to think and know that moments before Jesus’ trials began He was thinking and praying for us, for His disciples and for the world. It demonstrates the priority of prayer.”

You see in great detail within His prayer the clearly distinctive and beautiful principle of Christianity that sets it apart from any other religion; we can have a relationship with God and He also desires to have a relationship with us.

Our God is not a distant God, for if it were so He would not have had Jesus’ prayer to Him preserved for us. Quite the opposite, the preservation of this prayer for us indicates that our God is personal. We must not forget that Jesus also prayed the prayer in person before the disciples as well.

By its very preservation in the Bible and recital in front of the disciples we know that Jesus wanted us to understand things through the prayer. Ultimately there was nothing secret about His prayer that was meant to be kept from us, otherwise we would not have access to it in His Word.

Jesus wants us to know that He cares for us and that God the Fathers does as well. We must not forget this is Jesus, the Son of God, praying to the God of the universe and the disciples got to hear it and we His followers get to read it.

God is not distant; He is fully involved in our lives and wants us to have a relationship with Him. He knew that by preserving this prayer in His Word it would serve as an awe-inspiring and confidence building account for Christians in all times to come. It is evidential of His great eternal love for us.

We notice that He is praying for all Christians in all times to come when He mentions “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” He is praying for you and me. “God is not distant; He is fully involved in our lives and wants us to have a relationship with Him.”

Jesus prays that Christians be unified, that the world would come to know that He was sent by God and He prays that He will have relationships with His followers and that they will be loved and see God’s glory.

22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.John 17: 22-23 (KJV)

Christian unity within the church and among believers is a magnificent picture of the unity of God and Jesus. You can see a structure too— God in Jesus, Jesus in us. There is a hierarchy. This is another reason why Jesus prayed for us publicly and had it recorded.

As Christians we need to know why unity is important. Primarily it is important because it provides a necessary standard of structure for the churches relationship to Jesus, to each other and to God the Father.

That structure is God in Jesus, and Jesus in us. With Jesus within us we can be effective servants in sharing the gospel and in living in harmony with each other. You cannot have unity amongst Christians without this essential ingredient.

The unity that follows allows for individuals to be effectively evangelized (“and that the world may know that thou hast sent me”).

A unified church that follows God’s hierarchy is an appealing church to the lost. It is a church that achieves God’s mission, for without Jesus in us and without God in Jesus the church will not be effective.

The prayer is also notable for the qualities of God’s relationship with us that it highlights. First He has given us glory, or glorified us (“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them”).

Second, He desires to be with us and for us to be with Him (“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;”). This is the great relationship we have with Jesus and God.

26) If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.John 12:26 (KJV)

We are always with Jesus and He is always with us as is God who honors us. If there is ever a doubt that Jesus has left your side or that He really does not want to be with you, refer back to His own prayer. Remember always that He prayed and told God that it was fully His desire that we be with Him in both this life and for eternity.

Lastly, regarding the relational aspects of the prayer that are highlighted, Jesus prays for us to receive God’s love (“that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.”). We gain true love from God through our relationship with Jesus.

Again, this prayer is astonishing. Our God is personal; He cares for us, has desires for us, thinks about and for us, and is with us. He is an approachable God. This is why spreading the good news to others is so essential and ultimately Jesus’ prayer helps us do just that. Do not forget that Jesus was praying for us.

When you contemplate the attributes of God in this prayer it shows us a God that we want to tell others about. And we must— it is the task set before us.

We must continually let the world know that God sent Jesus. This was and still is Jesus’ desire.

25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.John 17:25 (KJV)

Do you know this, reader? Christian, if you know this have you shared it?

26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:26 (KJV)

As a Christian it is easy to forget (especially if one has been a believer for a long time) the gravity and importance of Jesus being revealed to man when He first was born and had His ministry here on Earth in person. This revelation and His resurrection are essential to our faith— they are everything.

“Christianity is not confined to the years between B.C. and A.D.”Remember, when the gospel is presented to a non-Christian, whether they act like it or not, it is a divine revelation to them. Jesus ascended to heaven in 33 A.D., but He continues to reveal Himself now and forever through His Word and witness.

It does not matter how removed we are from the event of Jesus’ time on Earth in the flesh. The message remains the same. He has come and though He ascended, He is still in our presence and wants to save and know the lost.

That is a message for every era and for all time. Christianity is not confined to the years between B.C. and A.D.

It is a glorious thing indeed that Jesus’ prayer for us is preserved in scripture. Let us remember to pray as He did when challenges are near. Let us remember the importance of Christian unity, the many attributes of Jesus’ relationship with us and the unequivocal gravity of world evangelism.

Amen.

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