Answer the Lord's Prayer|
One of the great blessings and privileges found only in Christ is access by prayer to God the Father. Because Jesus is our High Priest in the true tabernacle of heaven, we can approach the Father in prayer and "draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). By our association with the Son of God, "this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1John 5:14). Not only is this our privilege, but it is also our esteemed duty, for God’s word commands, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
God answers our prayers over and over again, but do you realize that we have an opportunity to respond to the prayer of our Lord? On the night in which Judas would betray Jesus, the Lord offered several prayers, one of which is recorded in John 17. This particular prayer contains three distinct petitions from Christ to the Father, and we can participate in the answers to all three. This is not to suggest that we are empowered to receive anyone’s prayer or grant requests that are only within God’s power. Instead, this is simply to notice that in Christ’s greatest hour of need, He expressed His will to the Father, and we are able to act on His will and help to fulfill the desires of His prayer.
One request that Jesus made to His Father was that He would be glorified (John 17:1-5). The Father fulfilled this request when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Jesus at His right hand in heaven after His crucifixion. Paul wrote that "God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11). Just as the Father answered Christ’s prayer by bringing glory to Him, we also can bring glory to Him. We accomplish this by confessing to all that Jesus is Lord and Christ, by praising Him in prayer and song, by giving thanks to God in His name, and by doing His will in humble, submissive obedience.
Jesus also requested in His prayer that the Father would keep His disciples (John 17:6-19). Specifically, Jesus spoke of His apostles who were with Him and who would carry on the gospel after He departed from the world. In verse 11, Jesus prayed, "Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” In verse 15, He added to this request for the apostles, saying, "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” In verse 17, He expressed how these requests were to be fulfilled, saying, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” From these requests, we can gather principles of Christ’s will for our own behavior. We can fulfill His will by keeping in the name of God, which means that we must live in accordance to our association with the holy name and reputation of Almighty God. We also fulfill Christ’s will by resisting the devil, who is the evil one, and fleeing from sin, which is the devil’s will for us. All of this can be accomplished through the sanctifying power of God’s word. Through His word, we can be cleansed from sin, set apart from the world, made useful to God, and strengthened against the schemes of the devil.
Finally, Jesus prayed that His disciples would possess the same unity that exists between Himself and the Father (John 17:20-26). In this, Jesus spoke directly of all Christians who have believed on Him through the preaching of His apostles. In verses 20-21, He prayed, "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” In this request, we have our most direct opportunity to fulfill Christ’s will in this prayer, for it is within our power to have unity with one another. This requires for us to abide in His word as His true disciples (John 8:31-32; 1Cor. 1:10) and to resist all division that results from following the teachings of men (Rom. 16:17). It also requires us to put away petty bickering and strife that comes from personal conflicts, differences of opinion, and immaturity (Rom. 14:1; 1Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:14-15). Moreover, it requires us to love one another (1Cor. 13) and "be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21). If we will do this, then we can demonstrate to the world that Jesus was indeed sent by the Father.
Of course, the prayer of Jesus was addressed to the Father and not to us, but His words were recorded for our understanding and benefit. It is a wonderful insight to know the mind of Jesus just before He went to die for us. Knowing these things, we should rejoice that we can have a part in doing the will of Christ, which was so important to Him as He faced the gruesome specter of the cross. We can glorify Him, keep ourselves in the name of the Father, and be united with one another in the likeness of the Father and the Son. If we will do these, then Christ’s will expressed in His prayer will be well served.
Stacey E. Durham
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