Summary: Live the glory-driven life. The greatest good we can do is to always seek God's glory.
The Glory-Driven Life
Rev. Brian Bill
To follow-up with turning 50 last week, someone sent me this story. A young couple invited their elderly pastor over for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their young son what they were having. “Goat,” the little boy replied. “Goat?” replied the startled man of the cloth, “Are you sure about that?” “Yep,” said the boy. “I heard Dad say to Mom, ‘Today is just as good as any to have the old goat for dinner.’”
We’re beginning a three-part series today called, “What Jesus Wants For You” from John 17. This chapter divides easily into three sections. Jesus prays for himself in verses 1-5; He prays for His disciples in 6-19 and He concludes by praying for all believers, including us, in verses 20-26. Martin Lloyd-Jones preached 48 sermons on this chapter but we’re going to spend just three weeks in it.
Here are some introductory comments.
* While there are some 650 prayers recorded in the Bible, none match the splendor and majesty of this one, which is the longest recorded prayer in Scripture.
* This is truly the “Lord’s Prayer” because it’s prayed by Jesus. The other prayer in Matthew 6, commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” is probably better titled, “The Disciples’ Prayer.”
* Jesus prayed this prayer out loud for the benefit of others. When Beth and I lived in Rockford we led a small group made up of a lot of new Christians. Invariably, when we would pray together as a group, one of the husbands would pray an “imprecatory prayer” against his wife, for all of us to hear. It would go something like this: “God, would you help us to forgive and not keep bringing stuff up just because a husband might not do what he’s supposed to do around the house and would you help those who spend too much money shopping to stop doing that and begin listening their husbands.” I think that’s the only time that I’ve actually interrupted someone’s intercession. Jesus didn’t do that but He often prayed for the benefit of other people and it’s our privilege to overhear this prayer. We also see this practice in John 11:42 when He prayed to His Father: “I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
* The setting for this prayer comes right after Christ’s words of comfort regarding the sending of the Holy Spirit and takes place either in the Upper Room or on His way to Gethsemane. In John 13-16, Jesus talked with His followers; In John 17 He talks with His Father. Preaching and prayer always go together (see Acts 6:4).
A Prayer God Will Answer
We’ve all experienced the agony of unanswered prayer. That reminds of the preacher’s 5 year-old daughter who noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why. “Well, Honey,” he began, happy that his daughter was so observant. “I’m asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon.” To which she replied, “Then how come He doesn’t answer your prayers?”
When Jesus prayed, His requests were granted. Let’s see how Jesus lived the glory of God-driven life. Please turn in your Bibles to John 17:1-5 as we draw out some prayer principles that if followed, can revitalize our own prayer lives. But first, listen with awe and reverence as I read the opening lines: “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.’”
1. Consider changing your prayer posture. Look at the opening words of verse 1: “After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed.” Granted, there are times when you and I should pray with our heads down, like the man who cried out for mercy in Luke 18:13: “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’” but there are other ways to pray as well. Moses raised his hands, Daniel knelt, others bowed and some fell on their faces.