Summary: Prayer Warrriors, Pt. 6
THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION (JOHN 17:1-26)
Several years ago Newsweek commissioned a survey of adults nationwide to examine people’s prayer beliefs and habits. 751 adults responded. Surprisingly, a high 87% of those surveyed believe that God answers prayers. 54% say they pray on a daily basis - 25% pray once a day and 29% more than once a day. Then it gets revealing when Newsweek asked them what they believe about prayer:
82% ask for health or success for child or a family member.
82% believe that God does not play favorites in answering prayers.
79% believe that God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease.
75% ask for strength to overcome personal weaknesses.
72% think prayers for help in finding a job are answered.
54% say that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer.
51% think that God doesn’t answer prayers to win sporting events.
36% never pray for financial or career success.
82% don’t turn away from God when prayers are not answered. (“Is God Listening?” 3/31/97)
Christianity is a praying faith because our Lord is a praying Lord. John 17 is the occasion of Jesus’ longest recorded prayer in the Bible. The prayer was recorded just before Judas betrayed him and he was arrested in John 18. The hour had come for Jesus’ glorification or his death (John 12:23-24).
What did Jesus pray for in his hour of crisis, at his last uninterrupted moment in prayer? Did he pray for his destiny, his deliverance and his dignity? Did he ask for relief and release from suffering, shame and scorn?
Pray for the Salvation of the Lost
17:1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
An elderly man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, “Old man, if you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.” He bent over, picked up the frog, put it in his pocket and continued walking.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for ONE WEEK.”
The old man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want.”
Again the old man took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, “What’s the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, and that I’ll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?” The old man said, “Look. I’m an old man and, at my age, I’d rather have a talking frog.”
Long life, personal safety and divine intervention were not high on Jesus’ prayer list when he knew he was about to leave the world and the disciples. Instead, he offered eternal life to sinners. Eternity is God’s most precious gift to man. The word “give” occurs seventeen times in this chapter, more than any one chapter in the Bible. Other words related to the word “eternal” give us a better picture of eternal life. These words include eternal glory (2 Tim 2:10, 1 Pet 5:10), eternal salvation (Heb 5:9), eternal redemption (Heb 9:12) and eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15). Opposite the words “eternal life” in the Bible are “eternal fire” (Mt 18:8, 19:16, 25:41), “eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29) and “eternal judgment” (Heb 6:2) – the lot of those who rejects Him.
We like the use the word “terror” today but the biggest terror and dread and pain in life is life without God. Life without God is a waste and a crisis. It is hollow, flat and bleak. Seven times in the Book of Ecclesiastes, the wise king Solomon said that life is “meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl 1:14, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 4:4, 4:6, 6:9).
Life on earth without God is unsatisfying, unbearable and unproductive. Shakespeare writes in Macbeth, “Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Life is an audition, a screening and a draft for the big stage in heaven. John Keats says, “Life is but a day; a fragile dew-drop on its perilous way from a tree’s summit.”