I thought I would begin a series on prayer in this email / blog. The series will look at different Bible passages concerning prayer. May the Lord help us in this vital aspect of our Christian lives.
Imagine if we could pray as Jesus prayed. So let’s begin with the first section of Jesus’ prayer in John 17v1-5. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (ESV)
This is often entitled in modern Bibles “Jesus prays for himself”. A quick read indicates there is a lot in here about glory: in fact, the main motivation of this prayer is that God the Father would be glorified through the Son (v1,4). The way the Father is to be glorified is by Jesus being glorified (v1), and the way Jesus is glorified is by him giving eternal life (v2), and the key definition of eternal life is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ (v3).
So what can we learn?
(i) Jesus motivation in his prayer and his action (v1,4) was the glory of God: is this the basis of both our prayer and our living? Is our underlying motivation for God, or for someone else?
(ii) Jesus is praying for himself that he would bring glory to God: it is right to pray for ourselves when the reason is that it will glorify God.
(iii) Jesus prays for himself to be glorified, but this is going to require suffering and death which will lead to the resurrection and glory. Can I ask to be glorified? Paul writes in Romans 8v30 “those he justified (us who sinned, but in Christ are declared to be holy) he also glorified”. Charles Wesley captures the idea of our glory in the line, “changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place.” Maybe the correct perspective is that we are most glorified when God is glorified in us; or another way, our glory is totally subordinate and dependent on God’s glory. Maybe, understanding all this, we can also pray for ourselves to be glorified – but bear in mind what that might take.
(iv) Jesus understands that all this glory is in a widening circle of people receiving eternal life.
So maybe we can model this prayer of Jesus in these words: “Our Heavenly Father, may you be glorified by more people receiving eternal life as we lay down our down to do the work you have given us.” Now, what would stop God being able to answer this prayer?
With love and blessing,