Hello there, Dave here on this fine Friday. This week we’ve been hearing Jesus’ final message to His disciples. He’s talked about a whole load of different things. Each day we’ve had a reminder of how Jesus completely shapes the way we approach life and faith. We’ve talked of remaining in God, His Spirit remaining in us each day. We’ve talked of how we are hope filled people. Yesterday we heard how we are to approach prayer as a conversation with a loving Father. Today we move from talking about prayer to seeing prayer in action.
Our passage today is almost entirely Jesus praying to His Father. In fact the prayer goes beyond today and into the scripture for next week as well. There’s lots in there but today we’re going to focus on two verses, 11 and 15. Here they are:
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
There are two things that we’re going to draw out of this passage, first the contents of the prayer, and then the nature of the prayer. This portion of the prayer is about protection. No prizes for guessing that one. In a similar vein to Wednesday, Jesus is clear that He doesn’t offer an easy life. He explicitly prays not that we would be taken out of the world, but that we would be protected as we continue to go about our lives. Jesus doesn’t want us to be insulated from anything that isn’t of His Kingdom. After all, that would include all the people who don’t know Him yet and reaching those people is a major part of what He asks His disciples to do. We ourselves are also far from perfect all too often, so let’s not kid ourselves with unhelpful ‘protect us from evil people’ language.
What Jesus does pray though is that we will be protected from the evil one, from the devil and his schemes. From the things that could have eternal consequences. When we pray for protection we ultimately need protection over the things of the heart. Protect us from jealously. From anger. From lust, from anything that draws our gaze away from God. Simply, where do we need God to protect us today?
The second thing to note in this passage is the nature of the prayer. Jesus is praying for others. We sometimes call this intercession. Standing in the gap between God and a situation that needs to be reconciled to His perfect Kingdom and praying for change to come. This is something hopefully we all do, but I’ll admit I’m not as good at remembering to do this as I want to be. Today is a good reminder. When Jesus prays for His disciples, for us, it’s clear He’s praying out of compassion. Sometimes the Holy Spirit just puts someone on our mind that we should pray for: that happened to me on the morning I recorded this actually, as we were praying at 9am prayers for members of our Church family who are leaders in their workplaces. Sometimes though we commit to pray long term, perhaps each day, for someone we know who is ill or is someone we want to support. I’m continually blessed by the number of people who I know pray for me and who ask me how they can pray for Kate and I. The second question for us today is who can we pray for today? Maybe someone who needs a breakthrough, maybe someone you want to support. Why not encourage them and tell them today that you’re praying for them?
Two simple questions for us to take into the weekend. Where do we need God’s protection and who can we pray for today? Let’s be a people who pray for each other, encouraging each other as we all seek to live as Jesus’ disciples, day by day. That brings us to the end of this leg of the journey. Until next week when my wonderful colleague Tom picks up the Foundations baton, in the words of Ron Burgundy, stay classy Sheffield.
Thank you God for your word. Thank you that each day this week we’ve been able to hear more about what life looks like in your Kingdom. Please protect us today as we try and live as your disciples. God would you speak to us and reveal who you would like us to pray for this week. Amen.
READING: John 17:1-19
After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed:
‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.’