Summary: Learn why to pray for others, who to pray for when praying for others and what to pray for when praying for others.
We return to our message series on prayer. We looked at prayer as communion with God and caring for self. We saw that prayer is not so much getting God to love us or getting God to do what we want, but prayer is getting to know the God who already loves us and who wants to show us His love if we would only ask.
This morning, we will look at prayer as caring for others. Sometime ago, I saw a cartoon in a Christian magazine of a pastor walking toward one of his parishioners. In the text bubble above the pastor’s head read, “Uh-oh, there’s Bob. I said I would pray for him this week. ‘Dear God, please be with Bob.’”
The next frame, the Pastor shakes Bob’s hand, and says, “How are you, Bob? I prayed for you this week.”
Can anyone identify with this cartoon? All of us have forgotten to pray for others at one time or another. Sometimes our forgetfulness comes from not understanding our motivation to pray for others. Other times we forget because we have not developed a time or a way to pray for others. And for those who know the reason and have the way, there is still the need to know how to pray for others. We will look at all three concerns to enable us to effectively pray for others.
Our text this morning is John 17, known as the real Lord’s Prayer or the high priestly prayer of Jesus. We will make three observations: Why we pray for others, who we pray for and what we pray for when we pray for others.
Jesus prayed this prayer after his last meal with his disciples. Through this prayer, we see Jesus’ great concern for others, even as he was aware of his imminent death. Caring for others through prayer is compassionate, resourceful and enduring. From Jesus’ example of praying for others, we can discover why, who and what to pray for when praying for others. Let’s look together.
First, the reason for why we pray is the glory of God. Vs. 1-5; 24-26
Many people note that Jesus began this prayer by praying for Himself. On the surface, that appears to be true. But when we look deeper, we realize He is praying that God the Father would be glorified, that God the Father would get the credit for what Jesus accomplishes on the cross. And at the close of Jesus’ prayer, He prays that others might see and agree that God the Father is the One Who deserves the credit for sending Jesus to us. In short, Jesus’ prays for others because he wants to introduce God’s love and goodness to others.
Why do we pray for others? We pray for others maybe out of compassion for them. We pray for others in order to change them. We pray for others because others ask us to pray. We pray for others because we are helpless, but God is not. We pray for others, because we also can benefit from God answering our prayer for others.
These are some of the common reasons for praying for others. But the best reason for praying for others is that God the Father might be glorified. We pray for others so that we might introduce to them the God Who is powerful, good and loving.
When we pray for others in order to declare God’s power, goodness and love, three wonderful things happen. First, we pray with pure motive. No longer is our prayer to alleviate our helplessness or to control others for our own benefits. Our prayer for others is about introducing others to God and His power, goodness and love.
Second, we offer others the best. When I ask Connie how I can pray for her when she discovered her cancer had returned, she told me, “Pray that my life would glorify God.” In other words, pray that my life would declare God’s power, goodness and love. God made us to glorify Him, and when our lives glorify God, we are living life to its best.
Third, we persevere in prayer. We often don’t pray for others because we lack love for others; we lack discipline in prayer; or we lack motivation to pray. I’ve found that we persevere in prayer when we obey God, not when we hear a motivational message on prayer. God commands that we declare His greatness and goodness through our lives. And praying for others introduces to others God’s greatness and goodness.
The next time we pray for others, we might pray something like, “God, glorify Yourself in this person’s life. Show Yourself strong, good and loving in her life.”
Second, the people for whom we pray are those God entrusts to us. V. 6-22