Thoughts On Prayer (Part IV)…
A flower growing through a crack in an asphalt parking lot
reminds me of the pressure facing Jesus-people on earth
& His power to carry us through
and grow us
no matter WHAT
is piled on top of us.
Friends, no matter WHAT is piled on you right now,
That CANNOT STOP Jesus and
The death He died for you
The all-inclusive forgiveness He offers to you
The full life He wants to give to you
The ways He wants to transform you
The place He wants to bring you—HEAVEN!!!
No matter what is piled ON us,
That photo is what Jesus wants to do IN us—
bloom & grow us closer to Him in friendship & more like Him in character! YES!
Isaiah 61:3: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.”
As we stick with Jesus and He grows us through asphalt, pain, suffering, and grief, He shows the universe how amazing and powerful His love, grace, and Truth really are!!!
WE ARE LOVED BY JESUS! 🙂
Main Text: John 17:9-26 (please click HERE)—Jesus’ longest recorded prayer in the Bible; occurred right before He was betrayed, tortured, crucified and killed…for us. We can learn A LOT about Jesus, His love for us, His plan for us, and what we need to be praying for, by studying His prayer in John 17:
- Verse 8: Are we reading the words—the Bible!—that Jesus gave to us? Not reading Scripture is like leaving presents from Jesus unwrapped under the tree, for years or decades! Not trying to make us feel guilty here, but that’s what we are doing when we choose not to read the Bible.
Furthermore, are we asking God to help us ACCEPT ALL of His Word, even the parts that we don’t currently agree with? This is crucial for us to mature as Christians, to experience more and more of the full life that Jesus wants us to have. Cooking recipes can be ruined by adding our own ingredients and leaving out the chef’s; how much more is this true regarding the Word of God, God’s recipe for real life?
- Verse 9 & 20: Wow. Jesus prays…FOR US! HOW AMAZING IS THAT!? WE are in the Bible!!!!! His prayer here in John 17 is a Family Prayer—though of course Jesus LOVES everyone, though Jesus offers forgiveness of sins to everyone, though Jesus wants to gather EVERYONE under His wings for protection/healing/relationship (though most are unwilling to want Jesus back), this particular prayer is just for us—those who have/will say Yes to Jesus to be our Forgiver, Savior, Friend, Brother, and King.
- Verse 11 & 15: Jesus prays for our protection—not that God the Father removes us FROM the danger of life but protects us WITHIN the danger—because we have a mission IN the danger (verse 18!)…to pass out Jesus’ invitations of free forgiveness, adoption, and new life to EVERYONE! Jesus assumes here that we will follow Him into the dangerous situations of telling others about Jesus’ love with our words and actions—He assumes that we will NOT play it safe and try to stay on the sidelines where we won’t risk injury but where we also will not be able to shine the spotlight of our lives on Jesus. Jesus doesn’t pray that we will follow Him into dangerous situations—He ASSUMES that we will follow Him anywhere—and thus He prays that the Father will protect us in those dangerous situations.
- Verse 14: Where will some of the danger come from? From what or whom will we need protection? The devil (verse 15)…and the world (verse 14). The devil will attack us because the devil hates God in us; the non-Christian world will attack us because we believe Jesus’ Word—ALL of it. Agreeing with God in the United States is going to start costing us our upstanding reputation and more…just as it has for Christians in other countries for 2,000 years. We therefore have two options: change what we believe so that others like us (so that they will tolerate US!), or stick to believing what the Bible says and trust that God’s opinion of us is the only one that matters.
Just noticed something for the first time in Ephesians 6:10-18—armor of God passage (please click HERE)—the “and” in v.18 connects prayer as part of the armor God gives us in v.13-17! YES! Prayer is CRUCIAL to the daily surviving and thriving of Christians! A football player would never run out onto the field without pads or helmet! But we do so everyday that we head into the day without bathing in prayer!
- Verse 13: Jesus prays that we would have JOY—an inner peace that cannot be taken/ruined/spoiled/destroyed by outer circumstances. And not only does He pray for us to have joy, He prays that we would have the SAME AMOUNT of joy that HE HAS!!!! WWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!
- Happiness = an external feeling based on outer circumstances (it can CHANGE!); Happiness is tied to our situation and goes up or down based on our situation
- Joy = an internal trust & peace based on God’s unchanging character; Joy is tied to God’s character, His promises, and His actions and thus is anchored and unshakable—it can stay “up” no matter what we go through!
- Nehemiah 8:10: “The joy of the LORD is our strength.” We NEED His joy to make it through life. Many of us are weak—myself included!—because we are begging God for more happiness and leaving unwrapped under the Christmas tree His blessing of JOY!
- Jesus was able to endure the Cross because of the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2–please click HERE)—honoring His Father and trusting His Father’s promise that both Jesus and all who trust in Him will rise again to eternal life!!! God’s joy can help us endure OUR crosses as well…
- Psalm 51:12—“restore to me the JOY of Your salvation.” We can’t lose our forgiveness, but we can lose the JOY of our forgiveness, the child-like wonder that God became human, died to be my Savior, lives to be my King, and has chosen me to adopt me into His family forever! Joy is tied to what God has done for us on the cross, not what we do for God or even the circumstantial blessings that He gives us. As we get more amazed at anyone/anything other than Jesus, we begin to lose our joy and thus our strength. God’ hit the refresh button on the webpage of our faith in You—restore to us the joy of Your salvation! This is where maturing Christians can learn so much from newer believers—they are often joyful like little children!!!
- But here’s the problem, and this is why I believe that Jesus prayed for us to have in us the same amount of joy He has in Him: without realizing it, we often spend the majority of our lives, time, energy and money pursuing happiness, trying to get the external circumstances of our lives in just the right order/set-up that we think will fulfill us:
-just the right spouse—finding THE ONE!—the person who makes the fairy tale of goose-bump love a reality, even if that means getting rid of the spouse we already have;
-getting just the right career so that we can be respected by others and so that we can have just the right amount of income that will allow us to pursue our dreams;
-getting just the right body, through either an intense devotion to fitness and/or a surgeon’s knife, so that we feel good (HAPPINESS!) about what we see in the mirror each day.
-we are investing our lives building intricate and elaborate sandcastles by the shore, not realizing that the next wave will wash it ALL away. We have sugary anchors that melt in the water and cannot keep us grounded/secure in life’s storms.
-Jesus wants to teach us to devote our time, energy, money, etc. to focus on being with Him/focusing on His character (not our circumstances)/focusing on what He promises to do IN us (and not what is currently happening around us) so that He can develop in us HIS JOY that cannot be taken away!!! Like Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep [HAPPINESS!] to gain what he cannot lose” [Jesus & His joy!!!].
-Jesus doesn’t just want us to have a little joy or a generic knock-off joy; He wants us to have HIS joy (Name Brand!) and AS MUCH joy as He has! This is amazing and shows that ONLY His quality and quantity of joy will give us the strength we need to get through life—Jesus said, “In this world you WILL HAVE TROUBLE. But have courage—I have overcome the world!” There’s MORE than enough of My joy for you to survive and thrive in this painful world!! YES!!!
-Imagine an athlete, musician, artist, scientist, etc. saying that we could have the EXACT same amount of talent/ability/intelligence as them! That’s what Jesus is saying about His JOY!!!! HE HOLDS NOTHING BACK FROM THOSE HE LOVES!!! YES!!!!!
- Verse 17: Jesus prays that we would be sanctified—literally made HOLY—set apart for special use (for more on this, please click HERE), set apart FOR our mission from Jesus BY the Word of Jesus, set apart FOR our reason for being alive on earth each day—set apart and made special and equipped BY ALL of God’s Truth in the Bible.
- Imagine a mountain climber being “sanctified” to climb Mt. Everest by having everything needed to climb—all the training, all the gear, all the guides, all the encouragement, all the teammates, all the maps, etc.! This is what Jesus prays for us—He has given us a MISSION and provided us with EVERYTHING we need for that mission, everything needed to survive and thrive! He has sanctified us by His Word—the Bible—the Truth of God…Verse 24: Jesus wants—literally WILLS [like a last will & testament]—that we be with Him Personally and that we literally SEE His glory…that we someday literally see Him for Who He really is…God the Son. NO MORE FAITH IN HEAVEN—we will literally see Jesus! This inspires and encourages me to continue trusting in Jesus on earth, to continue having faith in Him even when I want SO DESPERATELY to see Him. Thus Jesus says that “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”—and Jesus literally is the righteousness of God the Father!—“will be filled”! YES!!!!!
- Verses 11, 21-23: Jesus prays for unity amongst all Christians. Actively working together to lovingly & Truthflly introducing others to Jesus, not just occupying the same space on Sunday mornings. The more united we are, the more non-Christians will see that Jesus really is God’s Son!!!!
- Closing Song: Video—“Worn” by Tenth Avenue North (please click HERE): Powerful song—a prayer set to music! Reminds me that God wants us to bring ALL of ourselves, ALL of our situations, to Him in prayer. As this song plays, let it be your prayer to God as we close out week 5 of our impromptu series on prayer. No matter what is piled on you now, cry out to Jesus for His joy!
Quotes On Prayer:
- The road to forgiving others who have hurt us
is paved with our genuine prayers for them;
prayers are the asphalt of forgiveness (Matthew 5:44).
- In prayer we give God the brushes & the oils
and present ourselves to Him as the canvas,
inviting Him to paint whatever He wants…(Luke 22:42)
- Sometimes our desire for immediate answers to our prayers
is as ridiculous as a farmer’s prayer for an April harvest.
Even though we can’t see it,
God is at work behind the scenes
like seeds under the soil preparing to sprout, grow & bloom our prayers to Him.
- If I start praying, if I give God a chance to talk to me, what is He going to SAY!? What if He YELLS at me!!? He knows EVERY bad thing I’ve ever done!!! Just remember—Praying to Jesus is NOT like being cross-examined by a prosecuting attorney; it’s being comforted by Him Who served your sentence for you.
For Thoughts On Prayer Part III, please click HERE;
For Thoughts On Prayer Part II, please click HERE;
For Thoughts on Prayer Part I, please click HERE.