This past Sunday, I shared a message based out of the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. In that chapter, Jesus prays for his disciples and for us, those who would follow him in the future.
As I prepared for the message, I noticed a glaring discrepancy between the way Jesus prays and what we pray for.
In that prayer, Jesus prays for us to be one. He asks the Father to protect that unity. His declaration is simple: our oneness will demonstrate to the world that Jesus was real and that God loves them.
I suppose it’s the apparent absence of certain aspects of our prayers that caught my attention.
Jesus didn’t pray for protection against physical or worldly threats.
How often do we pray that God would keep us safe? Out of the sheer volume of your prayers, how much of it is consumed by prayers for safety? We pray for our parents, our friends, and our kids to be safe. We pray for protection when we’re leaving home and traveling.
Jesus wasn’t that short-sighted. He was inviting us into eternal life. Death wasn’t intimidating to Jesus. In this eternal life, we’ve been invited into, death is just a common in our sentence of life, not a period.
Jesus was praying over those who would be tortured, persecuted, and killed for following Him. He didn’t pray for temporary safety. He prayed that the heart of the mission would never be compromised.
Do you pray with the perspective of eternal life? Or are your prayers preoccupied with this temporary life?
Jesus didn’t pray for outcomes.
I pray for outcomes. I pray for what could be. When a loved one is sick, I pray for healing. When my wife has a medical test, I pray for a good report from the doctor. Even at church, I’ll pray that God saves someone as we preach and teach.
I’m not saying that praying for these things is wrong, but I’m challenged that Jesus trusted the will of the Father so deeply that He didn’t pray for outcomes in this prayer.
In fact, if you’re sick or loved ones are sick… pray for their healing. If you have a test, pray for a positive outcome. If you’re preaching, pray for those in the crowd to be saved, healed, and set free.
It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for outcomes.
Maybe the lesson here is that we trust the outcome of the process to the Father.
Jesus knew unity was mission-critical; the process wouldn’t work without it. His prayers reflected that.
Jesus prayed like He trusted the Father to answer His prayers.
I have a friend who goes to the ATM and hopes his accounts have the money he needs to withdraw. It’s an anxious endeavor for him. He doesn’t know if his request can be processed or if it will be rejected.
I pray like that some times. Jesus didn’t.
“When you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.” James 1:6-9
Jesus prayed with bold confidence. Maybe that’s because he prayed from an eternal perspective. Perhaps it’s because he prayed over the process and trusted His Father with the outcome.
Either way… I want to pray more like Jesus.