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John 17.1-5 – After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
Prayer is talking with the Father.
In the presence of his close followers, Jesus had a talk with his Father in heaven. He wanted people of every era in history to know both the content of this prayer and to learn to pray from his example.
Jesus prayed as a Son to his Father. We have the same access to the Father and can pray in the same manner.
The disciples never asked Jesus how to preach or how to heal. They did ask Jesus how to pray. Luke writes that Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.'” (Luke 11.1-2).
I have to continually remind myself that “Father” is not just a title, but is the reality of my position before God. One way to see how God views us when we pray is to use the thoughts of Ephesians to highlight our position as a child of God.
Before I begin my prayer time, I often turn to Ephesians, remind myself and speak out loud to God these facts of my relationship to him because of his great grace. (Note, I take one chapter at a time to begin my prayer time, but I have included all three chapters for this article.)
— Ephesians 1.4 – I am chosen by God in Jesus Christ.
— Ephesians 1.5 – I am an adopted child of God through Jesus Christ.
— Ephesians 1.7 – I am redeemed and forgiven because of God’s grace.
— Ephesians 1.8-9 – By God’s grace, I know his will and can pray for it to be accomplished.
— Ephesians 2.1-6 – I am no longer dead in my sins, but alive with Christ and I am seated with him in a place where my prayer is effective.
— Ephesians 2.10 – I am God’s workmanship and I am created in Christ Jesus for good works.
— Ephesians 2.18 – I have access to the Father through the Spirit.
— Ephesians 2.19 – I am a member of God’s household.
— Ephesians 3.12 – I can come to God boldly through faith, because he has granted me access to his presence.
— Ephesians 3.20 – God is at work in me to accomplish abundantly more than I can ask or imagine.
I encourage you to establish in your heart who you are because of God’s grace, as you begin your prayer time. It may take a little practice for you to incorporate statements like the ones from Ephesians into your praying. Please give it a try. I think you will find a deeper dimension to your prayer time, if you will do it.
Now, let’s turn from Jesus’ example of praying to the actual content of his prayer.
A prayer that will always be answered in the affirmative.
Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you” (verse 1).
Jesus made it abundantly clear that the Father’s glory was of first place importance in everything he said and did.
— A foundational verse in John’s Gospel is 1.14, where we learn that Jesus came to earth to display God’s glory full of grace and truth.
— In John 12 Jesus spoke of being glorified, but not as humans are commonly glorified. He saw his glory as that of a seed, planted to die in the soil for the purpose of giving life to countless numbers of people. (John 12.23-26)
— As Jesus contemplated the agony of death on a cross, he prayed for God’s name to be glorified. In response, the Father said that his name had been glorified and would be glorified again (John 12.28-28).
The glory that is revealed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is always, without exception, the revelation of his essential nature and character. With the cross and resurrection, people of all ages have the opportunity to learn what God is really like – he is totally loving, personal, faithful, just and holy.
We are taught to pray like Jesus prayed.
Jesus taught his followers to pray “Hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6.9 and Luke 11.2) as the very first item on our prayer list. We can also echo his words in John 17 and pray Father “glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you” (John 17.1).
Why is it so important that the world begins to appreciate the nature and character of God? What happens when a nation forgets what God is like? The people of Jeremiah’s day forgot God to their deep regret. Here is what God spoke through his prophet to the people.
Hear the word of the Lord . . .
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves? (Jeremiah 2.4-5)
Can you hear the pain in the Father’s voice, when he asks what wrong did he do? As he cares for a prodigal people, he grieves over how they have become worthless.
The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the rulers transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after things that do not profit. (Jeremiah 2.8)
In Jeremiah’s day, people who were tasked with the responsibility of knowing and doing the will of God either did not seek him or sought substitutes for God. Rulers looked at God’s “no trespassing” sign for behavior, and ignored it. The result was that the nation went after things that did not profit them at all.
Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for something that does not profit.
13 . . . for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2.11 and 13)
Can you sense the pain in God’s heart in these verses? People whom he loved changed from the one true God to idols, who were in fact “no gods.” If you have had a drink of water from a cistern, you will never want one ever again. The people had such a low view of God that they choose the cistern water of idols over the living water of the Father.
When we pray, “Hallowed be your name,” we ask that God continue to reveal his character. Jeremiah speaks for God and tells us what it is like for us to see God’s glory and honor.
Thus says the Lord: “Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9.23-24).
Dr. David Jeremiah, a well-known and respected radio minister, was asked to give his view about the corona virus and God’s will. Here is what he said.
“We are a great country, there’s no question about it. We have the greatest economy in the history of the world. We are a nation of self-made people, according to them. If we’re not careful, we can begin to think we are the master of our own souls, in charge of our own fate.
“God sometimes just reaches down to remind us, ‘You think you’ve got this thing under control, but I can take a germ you can’t even see and bring you to your knees.'”
Every time we pray “Hallowed be your name,” we are asking God to reveal his character to a world that desperately needs to know who he actually is.
I plan to patiently explore this magnificent prayer over the next several days. Please join me in using the letter to the Ephesians to be reminded of our place of responsibility and power in prayer.
Also, please let’s pray fervently for God’s name to be hallowed. Let’s ask God to reveal his nature to the world and to draw us once again to respond to his glory.
Dear God, you are amazing. Today, we pray that you glorify your Son, Jesus, so that he will glorify you throughout the earth.