Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t perform when you pray and don’t babble when you pray!” They were instructed to go away quietly and unobtrusively to pray (see Matt. 6). He also gave them the model prayer that is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9 13). This is surely a misnomer. The Lord himself would never have prayed, “Forgive us our sins” (Matt. 6:12), because he himself never sinned (Heb. 4:15)! It would be better to call Matthew 6:9-13 “The Disciples’ Prayer.”
The title “The Lord’s Prayer” should be reserved for the remarkable and detailed prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17. This passage is a report of Jesus at prayer. Someone has called this the Holy of Holies of Scripture—the most holy sanctuary—because through this intimate conversation of God the Son with God the Father, we can see into the heart of God.
As he prayed, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and opened his heart to the Father. First, he prayed for himself: “I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do”—what a statement! Then he asked the Father, “Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began” (John 17:4-5). After laying aside his eternal glory and coming to earth to live obediently even to the point of sacrificial death on the cross, the Lord Jesus asked the Father to restore him to glory. This request grants us a tiny insight into the price Jesus paid in leaving heaven for earth. It also shows the anticipation with which he readied himself to return to the Father.
Jesus then prayed for the little group of disciples who were to become the nucleus of the church. One day the church would reach every corner of the world and every ethnic group. Jesus expressed concern for his disciples’ well-being in the chosen environment for their evangelistic mission—a hostile world. They would need to be grounded in Scripture, in love, and in unity; otherwise, they would never be able to stand the pressures to which they would be exposed.
Third, and most remarkably, Jesus prayed “for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony” (17:20). He was talking about those who would come to faith as a result of the apostolic preaching of the gospel. In other words, he was talking about you and me! For us he prayed to his Father, “that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me” (17:21). They will see evidence of lives changed through the transforming power of life in union with God directly attributable to Christ’s coming, dying, and rising.
Not only does the Lord’s prayer show us the desires of his heart, it shows what he desires our heart desires to be, too—that we may long to share his glory, that we may be upheld on the way to glory, and that in all things we might show forth his glory.
For Further Study: John 17:1-26
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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