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The Ministry of Prayer
A picture of Jesus in prayer for His disciples
and for future disciples / believers, that they would be
fruitful in the world and have eternal life.
Introduction – How the Lord Prayed
1. His Prayer Is A Pattern For Us
I turn your attention in John chapter seventeen to that beautiful and great prayer of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In looking at this prayer of our Lord – His ministry
prayer – we also find out for our own selves a pattern for prayer. We discover really how
to pray. He simply begins the prayer with these words: "Father, the hour is come; glorify
thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee."
2. Jesus Spent Much Time in Prayer
I am really impressed as I read the Gospel of John and as I see how Jesus is
portrayed there. As I see the tremendous teaching and ministry of Christ – His miracle
signs, His great actions coming through the conflicts with the Jews and the opposition to
His own life and ministry – I'm impressed with the scenes of action out in the public
stage, public arena. But I am also impressed with those times when He draws away, when
He is alone. There in communion with the Father He reaches up to draw strength and
grace and power.
We have seen Him when the crowds came to take Him by force to make Him
their king. He slipped away and went alone to the mountain to pray. We have seen Him at
prayer at the graveside of Lazarus. We have seen Him at prayer in blessing and breaking
bread. We have seen Him at prayer in other places. But here is a place where it seems as
if the Lord just lays bare His entire heart and we're able to look deep within to understand
the burden of His life and the desires of His very innermost being.
3. We Can Learn to Pray Through His Prayer
It would be enough just to hear His words. But to be able to look further than just
hearing words to being able to understand what's going on in His heart – this is indeed a
tremendous experience for us. If we can understand what motivates Jesus Christ when He
prays, then we'll get the idea of how to approach the throne of grace and touch God for
4. The Lord Prayed Unselfishly
In this prayer He prays eight petitions. He makes eight requests. Only two of them
are for Himself, two out of eight. Six of them are for others – three for His disciples who
are with Him then and three for disciples who would later believe. That includes even
you and me. You may be concerned about the prayers of some people, but to know that
Jesus has prayed for you, that ought to be encouraging indeed.
It seems to me that first of all we ought to observe that this might be the real ratio
that we set up in our own life as a pattern of prayer. Out of every eight times we go to our
knees, only two times in behalf of ourselves and six times in intercession in behalf of
others and the needs of others.
5. "The Hour Is Come"
He begins by saying, "Father, the hour is come." We heard Him say three times,
"The hour is not yet come," and then we finally heard Him say, "the hour is come" (John
12:23). When He was getting ready to make that decision to yield Himself to the divine
will of God and in a sense when He said that before in chapter twelve, that was
Gethsemane as far as John is concerned. But now again He says it. "The hour is come."
He knows that the hour of His own life is really come to that climatic moment when He
will offer Himself once and for all for the sins of the whole world.
A. The Lord’s Prayer for Himself
1. He Prays for the Father's Blessing
So He says, "Glorify thy Son." His first request is tha t God the Father would bless
Him and glorify Him. That's sort of natural because you see, Jesus does not proceed one
step further in prayer until He has established a tremendous relationship and all is clear
between Him and the Father. So much of our praying is for what we can get from God.
But Jesus prays to be glorified that the Son may glorify the Father. He's praying to get
something from God that He may give something back.
I want to tell you, that kind of praying will get you through to the throne of grace
and cause you to touch God and receive His power and receive His grace upon your life.
When you're praying to be a blessing – when you say, "Lord, bless me that I can bless
somebody else; Lord, teach me that I can teach somebody else; Lord, help me that I can
help somebody else" – when you're praying like that, God will hear you and He will
answer your prayer and He will visit you with His grace and love and mercy.
So Jesus says, "Glorify thy Son that the Son also may glorify thee." Oh, I want to
tell you, this is the highest motivation of His entire life. This is the greatest desire of His
entire being – that whatever glory comes from the Father will somehow be reflected to
this world and that the Almighty will be reflected and the world will see the glory of God.
If we could be so unselfish in our prayers – so that somehow we would pray,
"Yes, let the glory come, let the power come, let the grace come, but at the same time let
it reflect Jesus Christ; let it show God to this world and not ourselves" – I think we could
get a lot further in our praying.
He is praying for that companionship. He longs to be reunited, to escape from the
limitations of an earth bound body, and to be restored to that glorious wonderful
fellowship that He knew befo re the foundations of the earth.
2. He Prays For His Work
Then He prays for the success of His work. He talks about it – just opens His
heart to talk about what He has done, what He has finished. Oh, I tell you I wish that
somehow we could get the spirit of this prayer operating in our lives daily so that we
could come as a son or daughter to the Father and just open up our hearts and talk to Him
about the work that He has given us and talk to Him about finishing that work and talk to
Him about doing what He wants us to do and talk to Him about keeping what He wants
us to keep.
There's the secret of real prayer that touches the throne of grace – when we
commune with God our Father, we're concerned about His perfect will and the work that
He has given us to do.
B. The Lord’s Prayer for His Disciples
He quickly moves from Himself. To me this strikes me deeply in my heart that in
the hour facing His greatest moment of grief, in the hour when His heart is breaking, in
the hour when He is carrying His greatest load, in the hour when the disciples are sleepy
and insensitive to His sorrow and His pain and His trouble, yet He is more concerned
about others than He is Himself. He has a pain that He would like to vanish away and we
understand it even more when we look at the synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke and we
hear Him praying in Gethsemane, "Let this cup pass from me."
Somehow I think that in these days we are prone to turn our hearts and our minds
away from the central core of what it's all about – to follow God and to love Jesus Christ.
I think we need to visit again the prayers and the very heart of Jesus and see Him there
struggling with that load and bowing to the will of the Heavenly Father. In that moment
when He should be most concerned about Himself and His own burden and His own
load, He turns His attention to others and he makes three petitions on behalf of His
1. He Prayed That the Disciples Would Be One
What would He pray first? If Jesus were to step out here tonight and stand on this
platform and pray audibly, what would He pray for first about this church? You know
when Jesus looked at Simon Peter and said, "Simon, Satan hath desired to have you that
he may sift you as wheat just shake you to pieces. But I prayed for you that your faith fail
not. When you get through this ordeal, strengthen others."
If Jesus were going to pray for you tonight audibly, what would He pray for you
about first of all? Well I confess that I wouldn't want to confess what He might pray for
me about first of all. But when He thinks about His disciples He says, "I pray that they
may be one." The first burden on His heart for His immediate disciples is that they may
be in unity, in love – and in unity as there is harmony and love and unity between
Himself and the Father. He wants the church to be that way.
Somehow I think this is yet even in this hour the greatest cry of His heart – the
unity of the body of believers, the unity of the people of God that they may be in the
bonds of love and in such a oneness that there be no division among them. Because you
see, when the church is in unity the world gets a message. When a church becomes
unified, the world gets a message.
2. He Prayed for the Disciples' Protection
The next thing He prays for is their protection. "Not that the Lord would take
them out of the world but that the Lord would keep them from the evils of the world."
Here we have some tension sometime between our own Christian experience and how far
we will draw away from the world to try to shield ourselves? Will we just cry for
separation or will we pray for God's grace and God's power to operate in our lives so that
we are in the world but not of the world?
I think sometimes that we overdo the idea of separation. If there's anything in this
world that's really needed in this hour, it's where those places are the darkest. Somebody
with a bright light should go there, stand there and magnify Jesus Christ. Amen? "Not
that you keep them from the world," he says, "but just from the evils of this world."
3. He Prays for the Disciples Sanctification
Then He prays for their sanctification. He wants to see His disciples learn what it
means to become fully and completely and wholly dedicated-set apart unto God and set
apart from this world and from sin. He says, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is
Here is the command that comes to us. If we're going to maintain the Holy life
and maintain the sanctified experience, we must constantly be exposed to the living,
purging, cleansing word of God. It must cons tantly be poured out upon our hearts and
minds because the word has the power to pierce the very thoughts and intents of the
The word of God has the power to cleanse your mind of all kinds of unclean
thoughts or all kinds of fears and doubts and worries and frettings that would come to
your mind. The word of God has the power to cleanse your heart from unclean desires or
unholy or unworthy tendencies.
Anybody who tries to live the holy life without the word of God is just going to
deceive himself. Some people say, "Well, I can live for God at home as easy as I can by
going to church and hearing a preacher." I don't believe that myself. There is something
about coming to the house of God together and worshiping and singing and magnifying
God together and going through that total experience of honoring God and then having
the word of God to fall upon our hearts. The preached word has power to cleanse and
liberate and set men free. Jesus said, "Sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth."
C. The Lord’s Prayer for Future Believers
1. He Prays That Future Believers May Be One
Then He shifted in His prayer to future believers. That includes you and me.
Again, I ask you, what is the Lord most concerned about? Again the answer is the same.
He prays for future believers, "That they all may be one-that the world may believe that
thou hast sent me."
Because He says, "If I can get the church to be in unity then the world will believe
that the Father has sent me. The authority of my coming, the purpose and power of my
coming will be magnified and it will be illustrated. It will be just simply magnified to the
whole world in such a way that the world will get the message that my life, my ministry,
my word is authentic and it has power. It has the power to take people of all different
kinds and nationalities and backgrounds and cultures and likes and dislikes in this world
and yet put them together in bonds of unity."
Ah, we could raise fusses today over the outcome of the election. We could raise
fusses in this house today about politics and the kind of clothes you like to wear and the
styles you like and don't like. We could probably raise fusses tonight about automobiles
and which is the best and all that sort of thing.
But with all the differences of opinions about a thousand different things that may
be represented in this house, yet in Jesus Christ there is a holy unity and a love that
overshadows us like a blanket of divinity, hallelujah, making us one. We are one in the
spirit and we are one in Christ Jesus. The world can't understand that. Satan is jealous of
it and he would constantly like to drive wedges and hinder that unity because when he
can get people fussing and feuding, then he gets to go on vacation and go some other
place and stir up some devilment there.
2. He Prayed for Our Perfection
Then He prayed for our perfection. He prayed that we may be perfect. That word
perfect means, "complete, developed, mature." He's talking about growth. He's talking
about progress. He's talking about development.
Oh, listen to me saints. For God sake, the Lord will perfect your life. He will develop it.
He will cause you to mature and develop and to do His perfect will if you will let Him
work in your life. He'll put you through some tests that when you come through it, you
can stand trials and your shoulders will be stronger and you will be able to reach out with
a hand of strength to convert and help others just as He promised Simon Peter. When
you're converted, that is when you go through this and you're transformed by this awful
trial, then you'll help others.
3. He Prayed That We May Share In His Glory
Then finally – and here's why I stand in awe and worship and amazement – He
prayed for our future glory and that we may share in the glory with Him. He said, "...I
pray that they will be with me where I am and that they may behold my glory which thou
hast given me."
I can't comprehend it and I can't describe it tonight. But oh what a day that will be
in answer to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the living God – when all the
redeemed of the Lord come with Him and share His glory and when holy created angelic
beings are singing His praise as in Revelation chapter five, and when the redeemed of all
the earth join in that song ascribing praise and hono r and glory and power and saying,
"Worthy is the Lamb!" You and I – with all the troubles of this world far behind us and
all the limitations and imperfections of a human body behind us and all the inglorious
path through which we have come, all of this is behind us – we will walk with Him and
stand with Him in the glory of the Son of God. Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ has prayed for your glory – not for any shame, not for any failure, not
for any reproach of yours. But today you have a lease and a guarantee and you have a
handle on the glory that's to come and it's the prayer of the Son of God for you.
How do we pray? We pray first of all until we're in perfect harmony with the will
of God Almighty and that we can be blessed to bless others. Then we pray in intercession
on behalf of the work of God and of others, for its success. We pray for the maturity and
growth of our brothers and sisters. We pray for the full development of the church. We
pray that the church will be ready to go and share in the glory of God.
How long has it been since you prayed for anybody in those terms? How long has
it been since you took somebody on your heart who was struggling and staggering and
you prayed for their maturity and their spiritual development and growth? How long has
it been since you prayed for somebody who looked as if they were going to turn aside and
miss out on going to heaven – but you prayed that they too would share in the glory of
Here's how to pray. One fourth of the time for ourselves and the rest of the time in
behalf of God's work and others. That's the kind of praying God wants to hear and that's
the kind He answers.
Don’t ask for blessing without giving.
Don’t ask for grace without a trial.
Don’t ask for peace without a conflict.
Don’t ask for faith without a fight.
Don’t ask for strength without a struggle.
Don’t ask for hope without a goal.
Don’t ask for joy without a burden.
Don’t ask for power without love.
Don’t ask for guidance without obedience.
Don’t ask for success without trying.
Don’t ask for glory without humility.
And don’t ask for life without dying.
A picture of Jesus in prayer for His disciples and for future disciples / believers, that they would be fruitful in the world and have eternal life.
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