“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” John 17:9
Have you ever struggled to pray regularly for the people God has placed in your life? I know I have. Like many people, for years I used a prayer list of all my family and friends as a helpful place to begin. But even then I often had difficulty staying focused and praying meaningful, confident prayers for many of them. Invariably I would gravitate merely to a rote recitation of their names as I moved down the list. It was not however, until I discovered a biblical, tried and true way to effectively pray for them, that a new focus and faith began to energize my prayers.
There is one chapter in the Bible that is dedicated entirely to a verbatim prayer recited by Jesus. That chapter is John 17 and it is considered to be one of the great treasures in all of scripture because it preserves for posterity an entire prayer, prayed by the greatest pray-er who ever lived! Some have called it Jesus’ great High Priestly Prayer.
Apart from the first verse which says “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed” everything that follows is in red letters. They are the words of Jesus as He prays to the Father for a very specific group of people: “for all those you have given me” (vs. 2, 6) and for “those who will believe in me through their message.” (vs. 20) In fact Jesus specifically narrows the field by saying “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.”
Who then is this select group for whom Jesus was praying? They were His apostles and disciples. Interestingly this included dear friends such as Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene; and family such as His mother, brothers, and cousins.
The John 17 prayer of Jesus is therefore the best model ever given for our use in praying for those whom God has placed in our lives. A study of the prayer reveals that there are seven specific ways in which Jesus prayed for His loved ones. These seven prayers lend a biblical specificity to our prayers and inspire confidence and faith as we pray because we are praying the same words Jesus prayed. Praying Scripture has always been a sure fire way to pray effectively and this way of praying for friends and family is to me as exciting and powerful as it gets. This is so because “this is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
So here are seven prayers you can use to pray following in Jesus’ footsteps: “Father . . .
1. GLORIFY Jesus through their lives by them doing the work you’ve given them to do. – “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” (vs. 1b) “I brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (vs. 4)
2. PROTECT them from the evil one and keep them safe in Jesus name. – “Protect them from the evil one.” (vs. 15)
3. UNIFY them and make them one with you and with one another. – “that all of them may be one.” (vs. 21)
4. SANCTIFY them in the truth of your Word. – Set them apart for you and make them holy. “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (vs. 17)
5. SEND them into the World with your message. – “I have sent them into the world . . . so that the world may believe.” (vs. 18, 21)
6. FILL them with your Joy. – “so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (vs. 13)
7. REVEAL your Presence and Glory to them. – “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.” (vs. 24)
I would be interested to know how this works when you try it? Also what have you learned that has helped in praying for those “God has given to you”?
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