My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. John 17:20-23
Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library and read a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling to his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold."
Daily Bread, July 19, 1989
Jesus prayed for believers before the church officially started on the Day of Pentecost. His prayer was not only intercessory, but it was also preventative. Believers should not wait for things to go wrong before they start praying. Prayer works best when it is preventative. For example, we must pray before we experience financial crises or marital struggles. Parents should pray for their children even when they are excelling in life. A couple struggling with infertility should pray for their expectant baby before they get pregnant.
I’ve made it a habit to pray for my grandchildren and many generations of Josephs before my two children even get married. I pray for the house they are going to purchase, the career they are going to pursue. I even pray for the friends they are going to have because I want to make sure God sends the right individuals with the right attitude who will help my children to live a purpose-driven life according to the will of God.
In today’s text, Jesus prayed for all believers because He knew one of the Achilles hills of the church would be division. He knew a divided church cannot do the great commission work. Jesus knew the only thing that can stop the work of the church is internal strife. He knew that a church united in prayer, in worship, in service to the community, united in purpose, and united in its mission to the world will have a far-reaching impact on the kingdom of God.
The mother in today’s illustration was praying for her son to give his life to Christ ten days before the young man read the gospel tract in his father’s library. I intentionally pray for my children every day so they would cultivate a relationship of loving union with God. I know they will go through different stages in life. But my prayer is that they would serve Christ all their lives.
Don’t wait to start a business before praying for its success. Believers should share every thought, idea, and desire with God to ensure their steps are ordered by God and their plans are established according to God’s will. A preventative prayer is designed to fight forces of darkness that will try to hinder our forward movements. It is like removing landmines from a road before traveling on that road.
If Jesus had not prayed for believers before His ascension to heaven, the church would have ceased to exist. His prayer not only paved the way for the Church to start, but it has also been sustaining the Church of Jesus Christ since the Pentecost experience. The greatest investment we can make for the future is praying fervently in the present.
Questions for Personal Reflection
Why is it important to pray for things that have yet to take place?
Why do you think Jesus prayed for the church that did not exist yet?
Prayer- Most Holy God, I pray for my children and many generations of Josephs. May your Holy Spirit protect them and their children against the attacks of the enemy! I also pray for the Church during this pandemic. May the churches that are thriving continue to do the great commission work. And, may your Spirit strengthen and encourage churches that are struggling to remain relevant in their ministry context.