Prayers Of The Bible: Jesus’ Prayer In John 17
With each passing day, around the country and throughout the entire world, it seems stories of Christians under persecution are on the uptick. I try to be choosy with my newsfeeds within social media and honestly want to find the stories that often our major news outlets ignore. I’m not trying to open a debate on whether or not “Fake News” exists or whether there is bias and a pull either way within the news we consume. I do think we are in charge of what we allow ourselves to see and hear and those things do leave an impression upon us. To be truthful, we can spend way too much time consuming media and not enough time simply praying and trusting that God is still in control. I’m 100% guilty of this.
But I see these stories and even though fear can rise in my heart, I know these are the times we are living in. I should not be surprised when voices within Christianity are intimated to the point of silence. It should not come as a shock when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and people are offended. We live in a fallen world that is daily marked by sin. We often expect safe and easy passage, but the message we hold onto isn’t the same one as the rest of the world:
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18
A big step for me this year is to live in expectancy that God is going to show up in the day-to-day and the ordinary, as well as in the big moments that catapult His mission further. In all of those things, I expect opposition because I know the territory God is taking back through my ministry and music is ground the Enemy has stolen. It’s ground he does not willingly want to concede. And I know that the pushback and blowback can be severe at times. All of this can manifest in persecution and I see glimpses of it all around.
An amazing series of prayers occurs in the latter part of John’s Gospel before Jesus goes to the cross. In those prayers, Jesus is praying for Himself to complete the work He is about to do. He also prays for His disciples and all believers. It is several of the verses from John 17 in which I want to camp out today in starting this series of “Prayers Of The Bible.” It is here we see Jesus praying for us to be set apart from the world even as we are sent out into it.
1. Jesus asks God to protect/keep His disciples
Protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one. John 17:11
We don’t give a ton of thought to persecution especially in the US because it’s still a somewhat foreign concept (no pun intended). In reality, we know persecution is something that accelerates and comes with greater frequency during the End Times. Are we living in the last days? That’s not really my area of expertise and I can only speculate. As I have said here before, everyday I live is a day closer to Jesus’ return. And I believe that. He will return! I will only say the time we are living in seems very “expectant” to many things setting up and looking “ready.”
It’s easy then to be fearful of what could come. Will we be subjected to torture? Will we face trials and slander of our good name? What will be the consequences for choosing faith in Jesus over an easier path? Jesus simply asks the Father for protection of His disciples. In another translation, He is asking the Father “to keep” those He has given Him. To me, "keep" and "protect" indicate Jesus is interceding to the Father on our behalf. He is praying for our salvation not to wear thin. Physical abuse, psychological torture….I can imagine all the scenes from movies like “Left Behind” but the point is, Jesus wants us not to stop short in our allegiance to Him. He is praying for us to stay the course.
2. We will be hated, just as Jesus was hated
I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. John 17:14
I love to talk about identity here. The identity we have in Christ is such an amazing thing and honestly I want readers to understand in a fuller way, just how awesome it is that we are sons and daughters of the Most High King. That being said, one place where Christ’s identity becomes ours is in this area of rejection. “They will reject you just as they rejected Me. They will hate you just as they hated Me.” Ouch. That’s one part I shrink away from and say, “Jesus, can you just let them go a little easy on me? I’m kind of a weenie!”
But here’s where I take heart. Christ is for us. He’s standing with us in the blazing fire just as real as He was in the Book of Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He’s not far off. He’s not distant. He is within us and surrounding us; especially in the midst of the trial. I believe even as persecution comes, the level of fervency within true believers will match it. I’m convinced that every disciple who gave up his life for Christ in early AD, knew it was all worth it. We can know that today as well as we face any possibility of rejection because of our association with Him.
3. Jesus asks for unity within His believers
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. John 17:21
This idea of praying for unity comes up quite a few times in John 17. I can only believe that it’s mentioned so often because it’s important. You and I need each other. We don’t walk into this alone. No man is an island. Walking alone in Christ without community is a dangerous place to be. As we move further and further as a nation away from truths of Scripture (and onto “humanism”), we have to find voices that are still speaking truth. It’s so simple for the Enemy to come in as a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing; picking off easy targets here and there from the flock. Those targets become easier if they aren’t attached to a flock.
My charge in 2019 is to be in community with fellow believers who are teaching and reading God’s word as THE standard for daily life. Jesus prayed for this type of unity to the point of comparison to the Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in complete harmony; perfect unity. That’s the standard, that’s the measure we are to long for in our circles and faith communities. Arm in arm, hand in hand, walking through any valley together under the banner of the Lord Jesus.
I can’t leave this topic without being completely forthright and honest: I believe persecution is coming. I believe it will happen in my lifetime as 40 years have already brought a night and day difference to the way this world looks at Christians. What will another 40 years bring? I say this to warn you but not to scare you. We are living in a time that is very exciting. We are seeing things align around the world that would never have happened a decade or more ago. So the opportunity before us is huge.
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35
I believe Jesus is saying to us “Look around you. Do you see everything that is happening? Wake up and prepare yourself for My return.” In that preparedness, we are telling and sharing the message of the Gospel with everyone…whether it brings persecution and potential criminal charges or not. Would we be so privileged to suffer a little for the sake of His name? Guys, I’m ready. I can’t wait to see Jesus, but in the mean time I want to take with me as many as possible.
God bless you guys. Love you much!
Would love to connect:
Other blogs for further reading:
Profiles In Courage - JOSEPH
Seeing For The First Time
I Won't Be Single Forever, Right? (Single...But Ready To Mingle? Series)