One of the great blessings of being a follower of Jesus is to know that right now – this very moment – Christ is interceding for his people before the Father (Romans 8:34; Heb 7:25). While we do not know exactly what Jesus says to the Father, we do have an idea of his prayers for us when we consider the example of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
1. Jesus’ Prayers for His People are Lovingly Self-sacrificial – Think about this for a moment. In the Garden of Gethsemane, we find Jesus in absolute anguish as he considers the suffering that he is about to face. In Matthew 26:38, 42 Jesus says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death… My Father, (may) this cup (of suffering) pass from me.” Luke 22:44 say that “And (Jesus) being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Yet, in all of his suffering, while his disciples – Peter, James, and John – had fallen asleep, Jesus unselfishly prays for His people. The depth of love in Christ’s prayer for us is nothing short of incredible.
2. Jesus prays Personally for His People – Notice that Jesus prays – not only for His disciples – but those who will believe through the message of the disciples (17:20). This means that Jesus was praying for you – personally – even before you were born. He says, “I am not praying for the world, but I am praying for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. (17:9)”
3. Jesus prays for Protection for His People – He prays that the Father would protect his church. He not only prays for physical protection, but even more he prays for spiritual protection—that they would be protected from the evil one (17:15) – and he prays that the church’s faith would stay strong after Jesus left them to return to his Father (17:11).
4. Jesus prays for Loving Unity between His People – He prays that his people would be unified in self-sacrificial love for one another, just as He and the Father are unified in love. (17:21-23). He goes on to say that the love between His people would be the proof that the world would know that the Father sent the Son to His people, and that the Father loves His people just like He love His Son. Wow!
5. Jesus prayers for His People are Continuous – Jesus prays, “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.” This revealed that Jesus was not only praying for His People then, but that He will continue to pray for them until He returns. Romans 8:34 affirms this, “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— and who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is now interceding for us.” Hebrews 7:25 tells us Christ is able to save His People to the uttermost since he always lives to make intercession for them.” This means that Christ is praying for you. Right now. Right this very minute.
What an amazing gift to believers today to be able to read this prayer and know that Jesus was, and still is, going to God—directly and personally—on their behalf.
John 17:8-9 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.