Text: John 17.1-5
Topic: The Prayer Life of Jesus
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
Sunday morning, September 6, 2009
( adapted from a similar sermon by Dr. Ernest L. Easley)
Those of you who came out this past Tuesday evening know how meaningful our time was in our first “Watch and Pray” event. I’ve had numerous people ask me if we would do it again this Tuesday. And the answer to that is yes. Yes we will.
We understand that we are living at a critical time. Many have said they have never seen days such as we are living in today. Therefore we are sensing the Lord calling us to pray like never before. We are gathering to pray for one hour for our church, our community and our country. I hope you can join us again this Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Never forget that prayer can do anything that God can do and God can do anything! I get excited when I think about the early church as recorded in the book of Acts. The early church was a prayer-conditioned church! Prayer was their focus and their focus was prayer!
God took what little they had and empowered them to do great things for Him! And for that reason, they did so much with so little. Today, we're doing so little with so much. And for First Baptist to minister effectively in this day and time, it is absolutely critical that we become a prayer-driven church.
So today, we're going to listen in on the greatest prayer ever prayed! That's right! The greatest prayer ever prayed! It's not a prayer prayed by a saint! Nor is it a prayer prayed by a sinner! But it is a prayer prayed by our Savior!
And that prayer is recorded in the gospel according to John. So take your Bible and join me for a few minutes this morning in John 17. For the next few Sundays, we're going to be learning some things about the prayer life of Jesus! If we're going to become a prayer-driven church, then we need to learn some things about prayer. And I don't know anybody from whom we can learn more about prayer than the Lord Jesus Christ.
This morning I want us to think about "The Prayer Life of Jesus" from John 17:1-5 9 (READ JOHN 17:1-5)
Now if you keep reading down through this chapter, you're going to find that this chapter is a prayer of Jesus. The first five verses we find Jesus praying for Himself. Verses 6-19, He prays for His disciples. And then beginning in verse 20 through verse 26, He prays for us!
In our time together this morning we are going to learn some things about The Prayer Life of Jesus, we're going to focus on His prayer for Himself. And as we do, I want to raise three questions regarding His prayer.
First, Who did the Praying? Second: What did He Pray? Third: When did He Pray?
I. WHO DID THE PRAYING? John 17:1a
"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You."
That's what makes this the greatest prayer ever prayed! Jesus, the Son of God is praying! And did you notice His posture as He prayed? John tells us that he "lifted up His eyes to heaven."
Most us have been taught that the proper posture of prayer is our eyes closed and our head bowed. Now I understand that. Closing your eyes prevents distraction. Bowing your head provides a backup in case you peek!
I have to tell you that some of my best prayer times is with my eyes opened, my head tilted upward, along with my hands, looking into the face of God!
Solomon - 1 Kings 8.22, "Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven: and he said: Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like you..."
Ezra and the people of his day - Nehemiah 8.5-6, "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen! While lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground."
David - Psalm 28.2, "Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary."
It was normal for the Jewish people to lift their hands up to God giving Him praise but also because they expected to receive something from Him!
"Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven..."
Jesus posture in prayer was one of expectation. Do you expect God to hear and respond to your prayers?
WHO DID THE PRAYING?
II. WHAT DID HE PRAY? John 17:1
"Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,"
And here's what He prayed beginning in verse 1,
/"Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,"
/ Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed, "Father."
Not "Our Father", simply, "Father." In fact, not once do you find Jesus praying, "Our Father." Somebody says, "What about the Lord's prayer back in Matthew 6? Didn't He pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be You Name?" Not exactly. If you go back and read the whole thing, you'll find what Jesus said was this: "This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name." You never find Jesus praying, "Our Father" though He instructs us to pray "Our Father" and I'll tell why: God is our Father by grace.
God is Jesus' Father by nature. Jesus couldn't pray, "Our Father", because Jesus is God, the Father! Let me show you something here in John 15. Three times in this chapter Jesus uses the word "pray."
Verse 9, "I pray for them."
Verse 15, "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world."
Verse 20, "I do not pray for these alone"
Now the Greek word He uses here is not the same word that's used when we pray. This word literally means "to request from an equal." It was used to describe somebody making a request from somebody on the same level. That's why Jesus never prayed, "Our Father" but simply "Father" because God the Father and God the Son are on the same level! They are equally God eternal!
So Jesus simply prays, "Father, the hour has come." What hour is He talking about here? The hour for which He had come into the world! The hour of His death and burial and resurrection! Prayer helped prepare Jesus for the cruelty of the cross and the triumph from the tomb. The best preparation for anything is prayer!
"Father, the hour has come, Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You."
Now learn this about prayer: *prayer is not to get our will done in heaven, prayer is to get God's will done on earth!
Jesus could pray in the will of God because He lived in the will of God! And if you're struggling about God's will for your life, then make sure you're living in the will of God for your life. God's will is not a road map, it's a relationship! More than anything else, our church really wants to know and understand and do the will of God. We might pray this way, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your church that your church may glorify You."
The word translated "glorify" means "weight." It speaks of that which is important and honorable. Now remember that Jesus had shared that Glory with the Father before the world was. Verse 5, "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
Jesus, who was making this request of His equal, was requesting the return of the glory that He temporarily set aside in order to come in the flesh.
WHO DID THE PRAYING?
WHAT DID HE PRAY?
III. WHEN DID HE PRAY? John 17:2-3
2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Well, to begin with, Jesus prayed
-after His instruction.
For some time, Jesus had been doing some last minute instructing since He knew that He was living in the shadow of the cross. Beginning in chapter 13 through chapter 16, you find Jesus instructing them.
In chapter 13 He instructs them about servanthood. Also in chapter 13 He instructs them about His resurrection.
Chapter 14 He instructs them about Heaven and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 15 He instructs them about abiding in Him and the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 16 He instructs them about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 17 He prays for them. Never forget that the Word of God and prayer always go together. After teaching them truth, He sealed that truth with prayer! Teaching and prayer go together.
Acts 6.4, "but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry (teaching) of the word."
Whether you're teaching a Sunday School lesson or preaching to a thousand people, it's not enough to present the truth, that truth must be sealed through prayer! If you have Bible without prayer, you receive truth with no power. If you have prayer without Bible, you receive zeal with no truth.
That's when He prayed! He prayed after His instruction, and
-before His crucifixion.
The way to prepare for anything is prayer. And Jesus is praying with the cross before Him and our sins around Him. And it was prayer that enabled Him to finish His work on earth.
Verse 4, "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do." By finishing the work God the Father gave Him, He brought glory to God the Father! And prayer made it possible! That's the way to prepare to accomplish God's purpose in your life: Prayer!!
Prayer enabled Jesus to finish His work and His work brought glory to the Father! That's the only way to fulfill God's plan and purpose in your life! You do it through prayer!
Pray to bring glory to God! I wonder how your prayer life would change if you began praying in such a way as to bring glory to God!
Verses 2-3, "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
Now look up here for just a minute. What is eternal life? Somebody says, "Eternal life is living with Jesus forever." Well, yes and no. Those who experience eternal life do live with Jesus forever, but eternal life is more than living with Jesus forever.
Jesus said that eternal life is the knowledge of God! And the word translated "Knowledge" is used in the Bible to describe the intimate relationship between a husband and wife. He's not talking about our merely knowing God intellectually. Knowing about God and knowing God are not the same thing.
When Jesus prays in verse 3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You..." He's talking about knowing God by experience! And the only way to God by experience is through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus says in John 14.8-9, "Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, "Show us the Father?"
Until you know God by experience, you don't have eternal life!! You're looking at a man that has eternal life! I mean right now, I have eternal life!
You say, "How can you be so sure?" Because Jesus said "this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" and that started for me as at the age of 16 when I yielded my life to Christ.
John 3.17, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."