Jesus Prays for Us
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Jesus Prays for Us
By Dr. Carol J Miller
[Print out chapter 17 of John’s Gospel in a large typeface. Tape the sheets together to make a long prayer. One way to do this is to go to “Oremus Bible Browser”. Type “John 17” into the “Enter a Bible reference” line. Copy and paste John 17 into a Word document and use a font such as Cambria 16 to enlarge it. This should give you three pages. The point is to show the length of Jesus’ prayer.]
How many of you say your prayers before you go to bed? How long does it take you to say your prayers; as long as it takes to watch a TV show? [Accept all answers]. Well, Jesus said his prayers, too, and not just at bedtime. Jesus seems to have talked with God about everything! He thanks God when good things happen; he asks God for help when bad things happen; he thanks God for everything!
Here is a copy of Jesus’ longest prayer. (Unfold the prayer; you may want to stand up as you hold it up for everyone to see). Have any of you ever prayed for this long? [Respect all answers].
Jesus prayed this prayer right before that scary night when he was arrested and taken away by soldiers. Jesus had known that this was about to happen. What do you think Jesus was praying about in this long prayer? [Accept all answers. Ask them what they would be praying about in such a scary time].
Let me tell you, every single part of this whole prayer is about the people who follow Jesus—about his disciples! Jesus does not pray to God for himself—his prayer is for God to take care of his disciples! Jesus knew that they would have a rough time out in the world.
Jesus was concerned that in all the hard times ahead, the disciples would never stop being Jesus’ followers, no matter how hard it got. Jesus had told them the truth about God: first, God is the true power. Second, the disciples are loved by God.. Third, God wants to have all people as God’s friends. Jesus had told them that they are God’s friends and God’s workers to let the whole world know that God wants everyone to care about other people. So Jesus prays that God will keep the disciples strong in their faith, no matter what!
Jesus wants one more thing for the disciples. Jesus wants the disciples to be “one”. He does not mean that he wants them to become one big, giant disciple! Jesus means that he wants them to care about each other, to love each other, even if they don’t agree about everything. Jesus does not want the disciples to argue and fight and split into different groups because they have different ideas. He wants the disciples to care about each other, to help each other, to be true friends with each other, no matter if they have some different ideas. Does that make sense to you? [Accept all answers]. It makes sense to me! A couple of hundred years ago, one of Jesus’ disciples said: “Thoughwe cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” (Wesley, John, “Catholic Spirit”). Even if we cannot agree on all our ideas about God, we can still love each other. When the world sees how Jesus’ followers are good to each other and help each other, those who see will want to be part of Jesus’ disciples. Different ideas are not as important as living like people who love each other and care for each other.
I’ll tell you one more surprising thing about Jesus’ longest prayer. He prays for you in this prayer. Did you know that? He prays for me. And he prays for all the people sitting here today. Listen. Jesus says: “I ask you, Father to care for those who will believe in me because of [the first disciples’] word.” Jesus knew that his Church would keep on growing and growing. He knew there would be many more followers—billions of us. So he prayed for you and me, too. He prayed that we might live all our lives as followers of Jesus. I’m glad that in Jesus’ longest prayer of all, he prayed for you and me too!
Scripture quotations are the author’s paraphrase
Copyright 2013, Richard Niell Donovan