“But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; — John 17:13-17, 20
Rightly so, our attention is most often drawn to the portions of scripture encouraging us to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is perhaps the most used, with the command to “pray without ceasing”. But were you aware that Christ prayed for you during His time on Earth? Really. Here’s God, come to earth in human form, getting ready to sacrifice Himself to save humanity from our never-ending cycle of sin, death and destruction. You’d think He has better things to do than pray for us. But no, He takes the time and energy to beseech the Father about the very people Jesus has come to rescue. Like saving us from our own misery and sin wasn’t already enough. Mind. Blown.
First, Jesus prayed that we would have His joy fulfilled in us. How different this is than the call of the world to make ourselves happy. His joy. Not something of our own creation.
Second, Jesus recognizes His followers have been given His word, and because we are not of the world, the world hates us. Hate. A strong word today, as it was 2000 years ago. The original Hebrew means “to detest (especially to persecute)”. You don’t have to look far to see the incredible persecution of Christians today.
But Jesus doesn’t pray for God to release us from this world of hatred and persecution. Only that we would be kept from the evil one. That the spiritual attacks would not shake us. This demonstrates such a beautiful principle. If God didn’t have the power to keep us protected from the evil one, Jesus never would have prayed for it to happen. So no matter the trial, the seemingly out of control situation, if you belong to the Lord, the attack will not prevail against you. The “evil one” cannot win. Period. Stay firm my friend.
And finally, the truth. The word. That we would be sanctified by God’s truth. “Sanctify” is a stained-glass word. It’s really only used in churchy circles. It means to set apart as holy. Jesus is praying for us to be set apart and made pure by the truth of the Bible. The set apart portion of this prayer happens pretty naturally these days. Asserting that you believe in the truth of the Bible makes you a lightning rod for ridicule. I love the plain language of “Your word is truth.”. Not partial truth. Not sometimes true. Truth. Jesus wasn’t really big on wiggle room.
Finally, Jesus extends these prayers not just to His current followers, but to all those who would come to belief through their words. Put another way, to all believers. So if at some point you felt like all these prayers were just for the hardcore, original disciple followers, nope. God’s got you covered here.
To sum up, when Christ prayed for you, it was that you would be filled with His joy, that regardless of the hatred others display towards you, and the attacks of the evil one, that you would be protected, set apart and made holy through the power and freedom of the truth, His word. I read once that God doesn’t care about making you happy…He cares about making you holy. These prayers of the Son to the Father seem to back up that mentality. For me personally, I’ll take the fire of being made more like the Lord over the flimsy vapor of “happiness” any day of the week. As difficult as the journey is, if it’s what Jesus prayed over me, it absolutely is worth every moment.
Have a blessed day!