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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