Jesus Prayed For US!

I’m no theologian, and there is so much about the Bible I still have to discover. I have learned so many new things this year by being a part of Bible Study Fellowship.  We have been studying John, and boy, it has been eye opening.  There is so much that I have not seen before.  So much new insight into Jesus’ life on earth.  It has been bringing everything together for me.  God has used everything I have been learning in John, sermons, and Bible studies, and made it one big lesson.  Only He can tie all of these seemingly random stories and pieces from His Word together.  He even does it in a beautiful, loving way. He wants me to draw close to Him, and has been drawing me all of my life.  I don’t deserve that, but I am so thankful He has never given up on me.

The thing that my mind can’t stop thinking about is the lesson from a few weeks ago.  We were in John 17.  This is the chapter right before He is arrested.  He prays the entire chapter.  He starts by praying about the fact that the hour has come, and that it is time for Him to finish the work God gave Him.

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.

John 17:4-5  NIV

Then, His focus turns towards the disciples.  He prays for them from verse 6 to verse 19.  Wow.  My favorite part of His prayer is this:

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 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 would take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

John 17:13-15  NIV

What a prayer for other believers.  This is such an awesome example of how to pray for each other as we are out ministering to others, and doing our best to live for Him.  I want to have that full measure of joy, and I am betting you do too.  I also don’t want to be taken out of the world, if God is still using me, and to see how He prayed for protection from the evil one.  Not safety, but from the evil one.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray for safety, but as the Lord leads.  Following Christ is definitely not safe, nor do I want to be a comfortable Christian.  It does give me great comfort to see the prayer for protection from the evil one.  That is the eternal, and that is what is most important.  All of the disciples were martyred, except John.  So, they were not kept safe from the trials and hardships of following Christ, but were kept safe from the evil one.

Finally, the chapter closes out with Jesus praying for all believers.  Also, for future believers.  That includes us, ya’ll!  Seriously.  I could not believe what I was reading!  I’m guessing I have read this before, but I did not grasp that part.  It just overwhelmed my soul, and the thought that we have words written down, that we can read anytime of Jesus praying for us.  Crazy.  Also, it is again, another example of how to pray for one another.  Here is my favorite part of our prayer:

…May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me- so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:21-23  NIV

So, we get to be in complete unity with God, and then with each other as well. That is what God wants for us, to be in unity with Him, but then with each other as a body of Christ.  I love the part at the end of that verse that says that God loves us, even as He loved Jesus.  That is a lot of love from God. Jesus was completely obedient to Him, even unto death, the Bible tells us.  God loves me just as much.  Pretty incredible, and pretty incredible to know that He wants to be close to me, and that He sent His Son to pay the high, high price to save my life.  The only thing He asks is that I believe in and accept His Son.  These are things to really think about with Easter coming up.  The resurrection is of course the best part.  Let’s not forget all that Jesus did for us, and what God must have gone through watching His Son take our wrath. Jesus kept obeying in all of the events leading up to the crucifixion, and He never overlooked anyone needing salvation along the way.  Even in the agony He knew He was facing, He took time in John 17, to pray for His disciples, and then to pray for us.  He really could’ve taken up that whole chapter praying for Himself, and no one would have blamed Him.  Even in facing a horrible death, knowing that He would be separated from His Father, He prayed for us.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

John 17:24  NIV

PS. Please go and read the entire chapter, don’t just take my highlights.  See what God shows you when you read it!

Prayer

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.                                    2 Chronicles 7:13-14

This passage comes in my head a lot.  I just remember the part about turning from our wicked ways, and how God will heal the land.  I remember it when I think about how many horrible things are going on around me, when I am seeing families fall apart, and when there is just so much hurt all around.  I think and wonder how much am I praying when these things are going on?  I am called by His name, I am one of His people.  Why am I not praying more?  Why am I not on my knees asking God to heal this land?

Maybe you wonder that too.  Why, as Christians, do we tend to sit around and whine about how bad the world is, and just talk about it like there is nothing we can do?  Maybe I am the only one who is guilty of it.  No?  Do I see a hand out there??  It is hard not to complain about this fallen world we live in.  It is hard at times not to live in fear about what can happen to us, but worse, what can happen to our kids.  Those things really get to me.  In those fearful moments, though, God reminds me that I am not to fear.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

That is one of many verses about fear in the Bible, and how God is our strength.  He holds us in His hand.  That amazes me.  The God of the universe holds us in His own hand.

So, back to the sitting around and whining about this world.  There is something we can do.  Something that is so powerfully underestimated, it just blows my mind.  Prayer.  Telling our Father about what we are feeling, telling Him how amazing He is, and asking for things according to His will.  Most of my list, I am guessing yours is the same, is for others.  Friends going through trials in health, marriage, and finances.  There are so many ways to have trouble in this world.  There is so much to pray for that many times I get overwhelmed.  Thankfully, my God never does.

Prayer does change things, but guess who it changes first?  ME.  YOU.  It changes us.  By getting on our knees and humbly asking for the things in our lives, we are letting God know that He is in control.  We let Him know that we can not do it without Him.  When we pray for our friends, many times, our own sin is seen, and then we repent of that as well.  Prayer has amazed me, and I have learned so much about my relationship with God, and seen how much God is at work through the prayers we pray for each other.  I see prayers answered all of the time, and  it is a privilege to watch.  It is also so refreshing to see the bonds formed when we pray with each other.  We become less afraid to share, and let other people carry our burdens with us, and we share theirs.  That is how it’s meant to be, friends.  We were never meant to do life alone, and especially not praying alone.

I challenge you, that when you start talking about how bad things are, will you pray instead?  Instead of getting scared when you think of overwhelming things in your life, can you pray?  Replace fear, worry, and getting worked up with prayer.  Talking about our government, our sin, our divorce rates, and the decline of morality doesn’t do anything to change things.  Praying does.  We are asking the God of the universe to bend His ear to us, which He says He will.  He wants to hear from us.  He wants to see us become more like Jesus.  This is a discipline that I fear has gotten a bit lost in our day.  Can we be the generation that brings it back?  What can be better than going to the God in charge of it all, and who knows the whole picture?  We get to petition Him, according to His will, of course.  We get to ask the God of the universe for the answers to the problems in this life.  Then, we get to sit back and watch Him work.  Sometimes, we get to wait, and sometimes, our prayers are answered differently than we expect.  Like I said, He has the whole picture.  I do not, so I certainly have to trust that He has the best in mind for all of us.  I know, from experience, that He does.

I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  1 Timothy 2:1-2