Summary: This is an expositional study on the passage commonly known as the "High Priestly Prayer." If you tke the time to read through this it will truly touch you. I pray that God will use this study to change your heart in many different ways.
The passage of chapter 17 verses 1-26 in the book of John is widely known as the “High Priestly Prayer.” Within these verses Jesus is praying to the Father. “Though this prayer, unlike the one found in Matthew, was not spoken deliberately for the purpose of giving instruction in this spiritual exercise, it never the less was a witness to the disciples and a revelation of the mind of Christ” (Harrison 99). All through Jesus’ ministry He spoke of His unique intimacy with the Father. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). This prayer confirms His testimony. “Four words summarize the main requests in this prayer: glory, security, sanctity, and unity” (Wiersbe 14). The prayer could be outlined into three sections: Jesus prayed for Himself (1-5), Jesus prayed for His disciples (6-19), and Jesus prayed for the whole church (20-26).
In verses 1-5, Jesus is praying for Himself. He is requesting that the Father grant Him the glory that He once had before the world was, but emptied Himself of when He came to the world, to identify with humanity. In verse 1 we see five main points. “Lifting up His eyes to Heaven…” This statement implies that our posture in prayer is not important. The verse doesn’t tell us whether Jesus was sitting or standing. All it says is that He lifted His eyes to heaven. He is also found communing with the Father as He raises His eyes to Heaven in John 11:41. “Most people bow their heads and close their eyes when they pray, but Jesus lifted His head and focused His eyes on Heaven. Most people fold their hands to pray, but I don’t find this practice anywhere in scripture” (Wiersbe 23, 24). There are many different postures recorded in scripture and they are all acceptable. Daniel prayed while kneeling. “…and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Dan. 6:10). David sat while praying to God. “Then David the king went in and sat before the Lord, and he said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me this far” (2 Sam. 7:18)? Abraham stood while standing. “…while Abraham was still standing before the Lord…and said…” (Gen. 18:22-23). Wiersbe suggests that the important thing is the posture of the heart. “It is much easier to bow the knees than to bow the heart in submission to God” (Wiersbe 24). The Pharisees were always practicing outward rituals, showing that they were the most religious. Our outward posture can sometimes express the emotion of our heart, but that is not always the case. Many times the Pharisees would practice the outward emotions without flaw, but their heart was not in it. Prayer is between us and our Father, not the person next to us or in the pew behind us. We should not be praying under compulsion or for sordid gain, but voluntarily. These are the people the Lord is speaking to when He says, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say” (Luke 6:46)?
The very first word in Jesus’ prayer is the salutation of “Father.” This is very important that we realize what Jesus is saying here. “God is not someone afar off whose attention must be won by fanatic appeal” (Harrison 99). Jesus taught His disciples how to pray to the Father. We are to talk to God in such comfort as we talk to our earthly father. Although I would not be dogmatic about this, I believe saying “Father” at the start of each sentence in prayer is a bad habit that we should try to cure. When we pray, we are to direct it to our Father. God calls us to have an intimate relationship with Him. Taking this passage in John into consideration, I don’t think it is wrong to use father at the start of every sentence, but “we must be careful to mean what we say and not overdo it” (Wiersbe 24).
Still in verse one, we will look at the phrase, “the hour has come.” Through a quick study of this phrase, we will see that we must be yielded to God’s will when we pray. Jesus is speaking of the hour for which He had come into this world. Jesus knew the hour was approaching when He would be crucified, yet He still prayed for God’s glory through this defining moment. Jesus yielded to His Father’s will. When we pray, we must also be yielded to God’s will. This is a big cause of unanswered prayers. We are not making God’s will our own. When we delight ourselves in the Lord His desires become our desires. When our desires become His desires our praying reflects God’s own heart. Most people are scared to pray in God’s will because they are afraid to pay the price it may cost. We are afraid to give up our possessions if that’s what it might take. We are afraid to let God handle the situation instead of us being so independent. We are to be dependant…on God! Look at the price Jesus was about to pay. He was about to pay the ultimate price and still prayed in the Father’s will. In 18:10-11 the Roman army is seeking to arrest Jesus and kill Him, but Peter pulls out his sword to protect Him. Look at what Jesus said to Peter. “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it” (John 18:11)? “The will of God has a purpose and an objective” (Gutzke 170). Jesus was about to receive the cup from His Father’s hand and went willingly because He knew the purpose and the objective that would be finished.