We often refer to a familiar prayer in the Bible as the “Lord’s Prayer”. You know, the one that starts out, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” Some scholars suggest that perhaps we should call that prayer the “Model Prayer” because Jesus says that this is how we should pray. Maybe it would be better to call another prayer, the one found in John 17, the “Lord’s Prayer”, because this is a prayer that Jesus prayed for himself.
The prayer we find in John 17 is one that Jesus prayed toward the end of his life. He knew that he was about to be arrested, put on trial and crucified to pay for the sins of all humanity. As he approached his destiny on the cross, he offered up a prayer that consisted of three parts.
First, Jesus prayed for himself. He acknowledged that he was finishing the work that his heavenly Father had sent him to do. Now he prayed that the Father would restore the glory that Jesus had experienced with God before the world began.
After he prayed for himself, Jesus prayed for his closest disciples. They would soon face a heart-breaking challenge as their leader would be arrested and crucified. Jesus prayed that God would protect them and keep them united. He also prayed that they would experience the full measure of the joy of Jesus and that they would be sanctified by the truth of God’s word as they have been sent out into the world to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ building his church.
The third part of the prayer should be particularly interesting to us because here Jesus prayed for those who would believe in him because of the message of the apostles. That’s us! We have believed the gospel message that has been proclaimed throughout the ages, and Jesus prayed a special prayer for us. The main thing he prayed for is that we would be united so that the world will believe that God sent Jesus into the world out of his great love for his people.
It is a shame that there is so much division in the kingdom of God. This must disappoint Jesus greatly, because this is not what he prayed for. We can have differences of opinion on certain matters. Like someone once pointed out, “You don’t have to be my twin in order to be my brother in Christ.” However, on essential doctrinal matters, there should be no divisions. We should be as one. And the purpose of this unity is so that the world will believe our message of salvation through Jesus.
Let’s do all we can to strive for unity in the kingdom, so that the prayer of Jesus will be answered, and that the gospel message will be accepted by those who see the oneness of those who claim to follow Jesus.