“For Jesus, prayer wasn’t simply talking with God, but involved a deep, abiding sense of reverent submission to Him.”

henry blackaby, experiencing prayer with jesus, p. 31.

Daily Devotionals: Ascent’s Mission – Loving God, Loving People and Impacting Our World. Each day’s devotional will guide us through a scriptural thought based on the mission God has called us to follow. 

We spent last week focusing on the first part of our mission, Loving God. We turn this week to the second part of our mission: Loving People.


Engage the Word: Loving People

Read John 17:20-26

This is a part of what is commonly known as Jesus’ “high priestly prayer,” that He prayed to His heavenly Father the night He was betrayed and arrested:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

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 – in Christian love. 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. Spiritual love. One of my favorite pastors and commentators, R. Kent Hughes, says this:

 “That love and 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 brotherly love, 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 and our love for one another. 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 – even those difficult to love?
  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?

Remain prayerful, keeping your eyes and ears open for opportunities God might bring your way.

    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 you conclude your devotional time, pray for our church family to take steps toward more unity with one another and more intimacy with the Father as we, together, lift Him up and focus on Him.

    Please read the first blog post entitled “Why Fast?” This explains what fasting is and why we follow Jesus in this spiritual discipline as, together, we seek the heart of God.


     Some parts of our 21 Days devotionals are adapted using various resources on scripture and prayer like The Bible Exposition Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, The New Bible Commentary, Logos Bible Software and other resources.