(Jesus’ prayer for His disciples as recorded in John’s Gospel begins in chapter 17:1. The extract to be read on the 7th. Sunday of Easter (B) begins with verse 11 and that, I think, is unfortunate because verse 9 is critical to our appreciation of the total context of this prayer. In verse 9 Jesus prays as follows: “I do not pray for the world but for the ones that you have given me…” P.T.)
When we think of Jesus’ teaching concerning prayer our thoughts go immediately to The Lord’s Prayer. In his gospel, John records another example, the wealth of which can never be completely mined. It is usually referred to as Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and it is recorded in chapter 17.
In this prayer for us and for all of His disciples we are reminded that we are appointed to a task. As the Father sent out Jesus, Jesus sends us. Where does He send us? …Into the world.
We are told that He prayed for His followers but made a point not to pray for the world. Why is this? After all it is the same world that God so loved that He gave His only Son.
The answer seems to be that in John’s gospel when he speaks of “The World” he is referring to human society attempting to organize itself without God.
He understands Jesus to be saying: “I am not now praying for the world. What I am doing is sending my disciples into the world, a world that I have always loved and prayed for and so my prayer is, at this time, focused on them and on them alone. For upon them hangs the future of the world.
Jesus, in His prayer, uttered in the fullness of His humanity, explicitly refers to His disciples as having been given to Him by The Father. (verse 11) This suggests to me that He recognizes His disciples as being the answer to His prayers for the world and that now is the time to focus His prayers on them that they may persevere and remain one with Him in a ministry of loving service.
In relating this to our prayers I am led to believe that God frequently responds by placing another or others in our path.
Can you recall a situation wherein your prayer has been answered by means of the blessed presence of another in your life?
Can you think of some individual or group that just might have come into your life as a result of someone’s prayer for you?
Are you aware of a similar blessing having come into the life of one for whom you have prayed?
How truly intricate are the ways that we are all connected, through, with and in Him!