Prayer was an important part of Jesus’ life on earth—and should also be so in ours. The Gospels recount many times when Jesus prayed. In one particular prayer, Jesus prayed specifically for many people—and you were on the list!
“I am praying not only for these disciples, but also for all who will ever believe in Me because of their testimony.”
John 17:20 (NLT).
When we think about the things Jesus did for us while He was on earth, we usually tumble quickly to, “He suffered for us,” and “He died for us.” But Jesus did something else that doesn’t usually come to mind. He prayed for us. Surely Jesus, of all people, knew just the right things to pray for. Soon, we’ll see precisely what he chose, but let’s note a few things before we get started.
First, Jesus’ prayer presumes something important—that the testimony of His disciples would be instrumental in leading future believers to Him. The fact that we are reading from the New Testament that is filled with His disciples’ writings confirms this! Second, even though Jesus is praying for believers in this prayer, everything Jesus prays for points to those who do not yet believe. So whether you are a believer or not, this prayer is for you!
Now, with this perspective in mind, what was Jesus’ prayer for us?
That We Would be One (John 17:21)
Oneness is a testimony unto itself. Oneness points directly to the relationship that Jesus and God share, and the relationship that God wishes to have with each of us. Oneness with God makes oneness with each other possible. Oneness is evident whenever believers willingly submit to the Lordship of Christ and operate on His single, loving agenda. Oneness requires that differences are resolved in loving and unifying ways. Oneness testifies to love. So, Jesus also prayed that.
God’s Love Would Be in Us (John 17:26).
This is not just any love, but the love that the apostle Paul described as patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not rude, not demanding of its own way, not irritable, keeping no record of wrongs suffered, not rejoicing in unrighteousness, rejoicing in truth, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things, and never failing (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). This is God’s love. Jesus said that others would believe in Him through our love for one another (John 13:35). So Jesus also prayed that . . .
The World Would Know That the Father Had Sent Him (John 17:23).
Jesus’ focus, while being on those who believe, was ultimately on those who didn’t. Oneness is the ultimate expression of His love, and thus the ultimate testimony drawing a non-believer into belief. Do you see the theme here?
Testify. Testify. Testify.
Testify with words, oneness, and the love of Jesus.
Keeping our belief in Jesus secreted away in our own private thoughts is contrary to Jesus’ teaching and contrary to His prayer for us. (So don’t do it!)
Now, let’s move on to Jesus’ ultimate prayer request for us—the reason testimony is so important to Him . . .
That We Will Be with Him (John 17:24).
Bringing us into a relationship with Him for all eternity is the end-point of all that Jesus did. And believing in Him makes this eternal relationship possible. That is the focus of all this testimony. Without the testimony of believers, many who would have otherwise come to know Him will go on to eternity separated from Him. Think about it: without someone’s testimony, you wouldn’t be a believer. We testify to bring about Jesus’ greatest desire—that all will come into a relationship with Him and be with Him forever. That’s the truth.
I am praying for you, that through the testimony of My disciples you will come to know Me, and that through your testimony others will also believe. I pray that you will be one with God and one with all other believers. I pray that God’s love will be in you because others will come to know Me by your love for one another. I pray that you will recognize this loving oneness as a powerful testimony and that you will be a part of bringing others to be with Me, for eternity.
That’s the YouTruth. Jesus prayed for you.
Copyright 2009, 2011 Dan Buckhout