“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one… My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one….. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message”
(from John 17:11-20)
Jesus prayed for this small band of followers who would become His Body, the Church. He prayed that God would ‘protect them from the evil one.’ He prayed also for those who would join them and follow after them, and He prayed for unity amongst His followers, a unity that would be a witness to the world.
If Jesus prayed for the Church it was because such a prayer was, and would be, necessary. We can see today just how necessary it has been and still is. We must not think that Jesus prayer was a prayer of the moment which ceased 2000 plus years ago. His prayer is still operative, and will remain so until finally and completely fulfilled.
When we pray for the Church we are, therefore, not only doing so because we see the need. We are, in fact, joining with Him in His prayer – affirming it and identifying ourselves with it. We are requesting that the Holy Spirit hears the prayers of Jesus, and of the members of His Body, and brings it to pass so that God may truly be glorified.
There is a great deal happening within the churches today. Much of it does not make for encouraging reading. It would be easy to write them off and look for something ‘cleaner and newer.’ But that is not the way of God. The very fact that these things are happening and being brought into the light indicates that God is at work, and that His cleansing is amongst us. It is the time for repentance, for renewed commitment, for a new focus on prayer and the Word, for holiness, and for lives devoted to the honour and glory of the Lord God Almighty. It is a time for ‘Jesus-inspired prayers’ – and this is one of them, one that He wants answered and to answer.
Pray for your local church and leaders, for your denomination or group of churches, for all the churches in your country, and for the combined Body of Christ throughout the world. Every time you see or hear a report on a church or church leader, pray for them.
Lord Jesus, we say yes to Your prayer and pray too for its fulfilment. Please cleanse Your Body on earth, including me, and lead us into Your Way, Your Truth and Your Life. May God be glorified now and forever. Amen.