Belonging, Sanctifying, and Sending: Jesus Prays for His Disciples in John 17

Just before his arrest, trial, and execution on the cross, Jesus prayed for all his followers. Today’s devotion is from guest writer, Sam Rahberg, reflecting on this prayer:

 

Easter Church--Hill focal pointFather, the hour has come. . . . 
I have made your name known
to those whom you gave me from the world.
They were yours, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word. . . .
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
As you have sent me into the world,
so I have sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself,
so that they also may be sanctified in truth. 
(From John 17: 1,6,17-19,  NRSV)

 

This day’s prayer began like any other for me as I settled in under a heavy blanket and quiet darkness. I had chosen to wake early and to reach out to God, yet again determined to pray for others and to make known the frustrations and wonderings of my heart. The Gospel of John stopped short my one-way pattern.

I had long been asking God to help me learn the wisdom and strength of conviction that I was finding in Jesus’ signs and teaching, but that prayer was reversed when I encountered Jesus praying for his disciples in John 17. It is a prayer of belonging, sanctifying, and sending.

Jesus begins his prayer to the Father, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (17:6). If we listen closely, we overhear Jesus claiming us as his own. He describes fulfilling his calling to share the truth and commends us to the Father for receiving and believing that truth (17:8). “All mine are yours,” Jesus prays, “and yours are mine.” We belong.

As he prays, he does not ask that we be relieved of danger or discomfort (17:15), but that we be protected and that we grow as disciples: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (17:17). We are sanctified.

The prayer is not over without reminding us of our calling. Jesus prays, “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world (17:18). We are sent.

There may well be times to pray actively and intentionally, speaking out the desires of our hearts toward God. Yet, as John 17 invites us to see, there is also a time to claim our place beside the disciples, simply resting in the presence and ministry of Christ to us. The next time you pray, settle in and ask how Christ is praying for you. Relax and receive God’s belonging, sanctifying, and sending.

 

About the writer: Sam Rahberg is the director of the Benedictine Retreat Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is also a trained spiritual director and member of Christ Lutheran on Capitol Hill (St. Paul). Read more about Sam on Easter Lutheran’s  website under spiritual direction . 

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Young Easter Lutheran member creates art to feed hungry children

This original painting was recently created by 9-year-old Mary K., who attends Easter Lutheran.

It’s called “Good Hair Day,” and Mary has decided she wants to help feed starving children by selling prints of her work, which is approx. 13 x 19 inches.

Good Hair Day--by Mary Kotrba

 

The prints are $10 and Mary is donating the money to Feed My Starving Children. Like many other Easter members, I know the Kotrba family– and this offer is legitimate. I am so happy to see a young painter create something so lovely and use the experience to help those in need.

If you would like to purchase prints, you can find more information on the April 8th post on Sara Kotrba’s blog,  “Sara’s Blog” at http://kotrbapianostudio.blogspot.com/

Until next time, Amen!

 

(Post written by Julie McCarty, Easter member and spiritual director, www.spiritualdrawingboard.com

 

 

What Good is Praying Anyway?

My first memory of prayer was just something that we did, at the dinner table and at bedtime.  It was rather rote and I didn’t know what it meant, other than it was a way to thank God for the day and our food.

Eventually, I started praying for things I wanted, in the selfish way of a teen.  If I got what I wanted, then I thought God answered prayers. If I didn’t get what I wanted, then I thought praying was just a bunch of bunk.

Early in my college days, my dog of about 13 years was very sick.  She lived with my parents in Roseville, and I lived off campus at the University of Minnesota.  I was close by – and I could come to see Cinder frequently.  As I watched her get sicker, I prayed for God to heal her.  The sicker she got, the harder I prayed.  I started visiting her every day.

Then one day, my prayer changed.  I prayed for God to end her suffering – “God, heal her or take her. But please end her suffering.” The day I prayed that prayer, I went home as usual to be with her.  She was lying peacefully on the living room floor.  She had passed away.

Psalm 37:4 says: “Take delight in the Lord, and the Lord will give you the desires of your heart.”

I think I learned something about prayer, and about relationship with God, that day.  I learned that through prayer, God changes OUR hearts.  Through prayer, God gently aligns the desires of our hearts to God’s will.  Psalm 37:4, then, isn’t about God giving me what I want. It’s about delighting in God – being with God, so that God will turn my heart toward God’s desires.   God takes the everyday situations of this human life, things like sick dogs, to teach me lessons through prayer, to reveal Godself to me one lesson at a time, and to teach me the ways of God, rather than the ways of humans.

In a few weeks, we’ll once again meditate on our Savior’s desperate prayer to God:  “And going a little farther, He threw Himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not what I want but what you want.”  (Matt 26:39) Jesus’ humanness desperately desired a human outcome, rather than God’s will. And Jesus reminds us, once again, that God works through prayer to align one’s heart with God’s will.

 

God of Grace and Mercy,

Thank you for the holy relationship you have with each of us through prayer.  Open our hearts and minds through prayer to ever-more align them with your will.  Teach us and lead us, so that your desires become ours. In Your Son’s holy name we pray, Amen.