“I’ll pray for you!” For years, when I would hear of someone struggling with something, that is what I would say. Then I would go on with my day and maybe (or maybe not) remember to pray for them later on. In 2011, one way I intend to make my resolutions matter is to resolve to never do that again! I am blessed with many dear friends, and it brings me such comfort to know that they will petition their Heavenly Father for me any time I want them to, for something big or small! Having someone say they will pray for you is comforting, but having them stop and do it right then is beyond comparison! I believe that this is what Paul had in mind when he told us to, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It’s pausing any time something is brought to your attention, any time someone is on your heart, any time there is a concern that is troubling you, and praying for it RIGHT THEN.
If we are going to resolve to improve our prayer life, what better way to learn how to improve our own prayers than to look to Christ. John 17 is wholly dedicated to our Lord’s prayer right before his betrayal and arrest.
Christ prays for Himself
In studying this passage, the very first thing Jesus prays for is Himself. Just recently I heard someone say, “I am going to be selfish and ask you to pray for me.” Well, if that is true selfishness, then Jesus Christ was a selfish person. One of the points of the human condition is the fact that we cannot handle this life on our own. We are not strong enough, and we certainly aren’t good enough. We need God’s help, and the help of our brethren to get through this life. God is standing there with His arms open, waiting and wanting to help us. But he also wants us to ask for that help.
Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Have you ever seen a child and known that they really wanted something, but didn’t give it to them simply because you wanted them to ask first? That’s the way God is with us.
So often I think we struggle with a “Superman” mentality. We think we can handle anything and everything that comes our way. I know I personally struggle with letting my every day cares build and build until one day I find myself feeling like I’m being crushed beneath the weight of all of my burdens. Why do that? Why not every single day, unload every single burden to Christ as we go to bed? Psalm 55:22 says to cast our burdens on the Lord. It doesn’t say, “cast your really heavy burdens on the Lord.” Or even, “when you just can’t handle it yourself anymore, cast your burdens on the Lord.” It simply says to give God our struggles. That means big or small, every single day. Just like our fathers would take heavy loads of groceries and carry them for us when we were little girls, God the Father is standing there, waiting to take our burdens if we will just give them to Him.
Christ prayed for the believers’ unity
As we continue on in John 17, we see Christ praying for the believers. In this prayer alone, Jesus uses the word “one” (or some form of it) six times. Jesus, right before He goes to the cross, is praying for the unity of the believers! How important does that make unity to Christ? How important should unity be to us?
So often people let their emotions dictate unity. Something doesn’t “feel” right, even though there is nothing Biblically wrong with it, so they cause disunity. Or something does “feel” right, even though it’s Biblically wrong, so they disrupt unity. We get our feelings hurt, someone makes us angry, we feel left out, and there is dissention in the body. Brethren, this ought not to be! We are the church of Jesus Christ, established on the day of Pentecost, bought and paid for by His blood, and we should be unified in that blood! In 2011, let us resolve to pray for unity amongst the believers so that we can show the world the Gospel in action!
Christ prayed for the believers’ temptations
Christ’s second prayer for the believers was that we may be, “kept from the evil one” (John 17:15). Jesus knew that this world would be a hazard to us remaining faithful. He knew that Satan would “prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He prayed that God would keep us close to Him, and help us stay faithful. Jesus wants us with Him in Heaven, and He wants God to help us get there! How amazing it is, that right before the cross, Christ was praying for me to be there with Him in Heaven! In 2011 I must ask myself, “Do my prayers mimic Christ’s for the believers? Do I pray that I myself, and my brethren, might be kept from the evil one and brought ever closer to the Father?” A lifetime of faithfulness does not happen by accident, we must ask the Father to help us! Let us remember our brethren in prayer that the entire body of Christ might be strengthened this year.
Christ prayed for future believers
Finally, Christ closes His prayer with evangelism. Verse 20, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” It is amazing how Christ builds on things here. First He prays for Himself, the head of the church, then for strength for the believers, then He prays for those who will be won, IF the believers stay strong! We are all part of God’s eternal plan, and prayer is one of the instruments of carrying out that plan!
How will we get that strength from God if we don’t pray for it? How will we see the opportunities God is giving us if we don’t pray for them? And how will the Gospel be furthered if we do not take it? We can all quote the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:18-20). We understand that it is our job as Christians, as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) to spread the Gospel to the ends of the world. Obviously, Christ considered prayer a vital part of that commission, and so should we!
Sisters, making resolutions that matter in 2011 means resolving to improve our prayer life! We CANNOT grow spiritually without it! Christ pled with God on our behalf just before His crucifixion. How much then should we be doing the same? Let us follow the example of our Lord and Savior in 2011. Let us resolve to pray without ceasing. Let us pray for our own faith to be strengthened, let us pray for our brethren, and sisters let us pray that the lost may be won, and glory given to God this year!