Prayer in the Life of Jesus
We want to encourage you to grab a journal or a notebook – something to write on as you walk through each prayer guide or devotional. Yes, it will add a few minutes to the time it takes to do the devotion, and it will also deepen your experience and shape your walk with God for years to come. This journal or notebook will be a keepsake to remind you of God’s faithfulness during this challenging season for all of us.
Engage the Word
Over these few days, we continue to focus on Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17 from the Upper Room, as He prepared to go to the cross, where Jesus prays for His disciples, for us and for the world. Jesus prays…
Connect the Heart
This is one of those passages that reminds us – when something is repeated, we should pay attention. In verses 21-23, Jesus prays the same thing multiple times: that His Church and it’s people would be unified. That’s you and me. But what does He mean? With so many divisions and denominations in His Church, is unity even possible? We need to understand that Jesus is not talking about ecumenical unity – but rather, spiritual unity. One of my favorite pastors and commentators, R. Kent Hughes, says this:
“That unity, though, does not mean uniformity in everything. In the Trinity there exists a unity in diversity—three distinct Persons, yet they are one. Suppose, for a moment, that we could bring some of the great Christians of the centuries together under one roof. From the fourth century would come the great intellect Augustine of Hippo. From the tenth century, Bernard of Clairvaux. From the sixteenth, the peerless reformer John Calvin. From the seventeenth century would come John Wesley, the great Methodist advocate of free will, and along with him George Whitefield, the evangelist. From the nineteenth century, the Baptist C. H. Spurgeon and D. L. Moody. And, finally, from the twentieth century, Billy Graham.
If we gathered all these men under one steeple, we would have trouble! We would be unable to get a unanimous vote on many things. But underneath it all would be unity. And the more the men lifted up Christ and the more they focused on Him, the greater their unity would be. There would be unity amidst a great diversity of style and opinion.”
It is hard enough sometimes to find agreement and unity among believers in our own church, let alone among believers across denominations and cultures! And we haven’t even mentioned the everyday conflicts that arise. And yet, it still should be our prayer that our heart would beat with God’s heart in seeking unity and oneness in the church – through our mutual faith and trust in Him. Can this be our prayer today?
Reflect on the Truth
1. Jesus’ prayer is that we would not focus on what divides us – but be unified by our faith and trust in Him. Oneness – just as He and the Father are One. Is your heart – your words, your actions, your desires, your motivations – leaning into this unity that Jesus not only prayed for, but modeled for us? How might Jesus’ example of a life of unity and oneness be an invitation for you to pursue the same with those around you?
2. Is there an area of division or disagreement with someone in the church where you might sense God prompting you to pursue harmony, unity and oneness? Is there someone with whom you are experiencing disunity that you might simply stop and pray for in this moment?
Depend on the Spirit
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the deeper longings, desires or motives in your heart that these thoughts are pointing to. (For example: you may write down, “Father, I love the idea of unity and oneness, but there are some difficult people I’m thinking of right now that seem to make that impossible. Will you help me?”) The Lord can help us discern the path forward – through His word, His Spirit, His people.
For Prayer: As we conclude our devotional time, pray that our church family would experience an uncommon unity and oneness, that division and conflict would be resolved in a Biblical manner – and that Jesus would be glorified in our relationships.
Read our post “Why Fast?” to learn about the spiritual discipline of fasting and gain a better understanding of why Jesus asked us to fast. We fast not to get something we want from God, but for God to change our wants. We fast because Jesus fasted, He expected we would fast, and we see that the early church fasted.
Read yesterday’s post HERE.
Catch up on all our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting posts on the blog HERE.