Lenten Devotional: Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples Then & Now

Jesus’ last prayerful words to the Father before his arrest are for Himself, for His disciples and for those who would believe throughout all time. This prayer includes you and me! We’re right at the end of this prayer. What did Jesus pray for His disciples? What did he pray for believers like you and me? Jesus prayed with great vision beginning with Himself, his followers at the time and then fanning out to all who would believe throughout all generations. What a vision! The structure of Jesus’ prayer has me asking questions about my own prayer life. How do I pray? I think I’m normally stuck in the here and now. I want to know what decision I should make right now. I need to pray that I too can pray with great vision like Jesus did.

In John 17:6-19 Jesus prays for the disciples that have followed Him throughout His ministry. Jesus knows He is leaving them. He’s met with them in the upper room and said some powerful words to them. Lastly Jesus prays for them. What’s He pray for them?

  • He prays in verse 11 for God to protect them and that they will be one. Jesus prays for protection and for unity.
  • In verse 13 Jesus prays they will have joy. The disciples will be hated but God will give them joy. We see stories of this throughout the book of Acts. They are protected in many ways and Jesus’ prayer is answered in many ways!
  • In verse 14 Jesus says the world hates them but He also says they are not of this world.
  • They now belong to God’s Kingdom and they have a mission just as Jesus had a mission. That mission is they are sent into the world in verse 18. We know they carried the Gospel because I am a believer. I’m a believer because of what they did and what they’ve left behind that God has protected so I can know God.

John 17:20-26 moves me! “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all may be one.” “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus also prayed that the love that is in Him would too be in the believers that would follow (verse 26).

Unity. It’s been a BIG word this year. Jesus prays for believers to be unified. This isn’t a prayer for the unification of all mankind. It’s for the body of Christ, the church, the span of believers to be unified across the globe. I believe it’s through unity that those who aren’t believers yet are drawn into believing. I feel this unity when my sister in Kosovo messages me on Facebook celebrating that she was able to share the Gospel with someone. I feel this when believers link arms together to accomplish something that glorifies God by obeying Jesus’ commands together. We do this when we care for the sick together, when we serve the poor, when we share the Gospel message, when we care for the stranger, the orphan and the widow together. We have the opportunity to live out the unity Jesus prayed we’d have right here and now! We are in Lent. Disunity separates and isolates. How can we live out what Jesus prayed for us this week?

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