We usually give this name to the prayer which the Lord Jesus taught His disciples, but the prayer beginning "Our Father, which art in heaven," is not really the Lord's prayer. He could never pray, "Forgive us our trespasses," for He never committed any trespasses or any sin. It is really the disciples' prayer, and the one we find in John 17 is the Lord's Prayer. Jesus had been in the Upper Room with His disciples. He had done and said many wonderful things and was about to go into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was to be betrayed and arrested and afterwards tried and crucified. Before He goes out, He prays this beautiful Prayer. Let us notice first:
. He begins as He taught us to begin "Our Father!" We find "Father" in verse 1; "Holy Father" verse 11; "Righteous Father," in verse 25. One of the secrets of successful prayer, is to be on the right terms with the Father. We must not only be sons, but dutiful sons (John 15:7). There is a lovely story of an old lady, who used to visit the patients in the local hospital. One day a group of doctors met her in one of the wards, and as she was leaving, a young doctor said, "I suppose you have been telling the patients that God hears prayer." "Yes sir," she replied. "I am very glad to hear that" he answered, "for I am very hard-up to-day. Do you think if I asked, that God would give me a ten pound note?" Everyone waited with some curiosity, for her reply. "Suppose you were introduced to the Prince of Wales to-day sir" she said "do you think you would ask Him for a ten pound note?" "No" said the doctor "I would need to wait until I got to know him better," "Yes," she said, "and you will need to know my Father better, before you ask of Him. " When we come to know Him, because we have received His Son into our hearts and try to do His will, He has promised to hear and answer our prayers. Notice, from what the Lord Jesus says here in His Prayer, how perfectly He had done His Father's will and pleased Him in everything. (a) "I have glorified Thee on the earth" (v.4). His only desire throughout His life was that people should think well and speak well, of His Father. (b) "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." That great task of our salvation which He was now about to complete. (c) "I have manifest Thy Name." (v.6). He had shown people God's character, which is what His "Name" stood for. (d) "I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me." (v.8) He had passed on the message of warning and love and promise with which He had been entrusted. (e) "Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept." (v.12) He had looked after those whom the Father had caused to believe on Him. Yes, Jesus had done His Father's will and so he could ask for great things, in the assurance that God would hear. Let us now see:
This doesn't mean that he wasn't interested in the World, for He loved the World so much that He died on the Cross. It doesn't mean that He never prayed for the World; only that He wasn't praying for it at that particular time.
That is, for those first disciples of •His, who had answered His call-those who were His followers and friends. Yet not only for them but:
When those early disciples began to preach, people began to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and these in turn went out to win others, until the original little band of believers had grown into "a multitude which no man can number." Trace their work back and you will find that it has all come about "through their word." The "word" that they preached and the "word" that some of them wrote, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, in the Books of the New Testament. It is "through their word," that all Christians have come to saving faith in Him. Now just think of it, if you are a believer, you have a place in His prayer. Yes, you were in His thoughts when He asked His father for all these blessings. Don't you think that is wonderful? Now it will be interesting to learn:
Although the Saviour was a "Man of Sorrows," yet he had wonderful peace and joy in His heart and He wants us all to have that joy. Some people speak as if it were a miserable thing to be a Christian. A little girl was once overheard talking to a donkey. She was saying, "what a lovely donkey you are, and I believe you must be a Christian donkey, because you've got such a long face" What a mistaken idea she had. The Saviour longs that we should be happy, so He prays that we may have His joy.
Evil is a most infectious disease and it is widespread like an epidemic. Our Saviour remembers that we are living in the world-in the midst of evil, so He prays not that we should be taken from the world; but that although we still remain in the midst of the evil, the evil may never get into the midst of us.
To "sanctify" means to make holy. There are two sides to our Christian character-la) We are not to be bad and (b) we are to be good. We have just been thinking about being kept from evil, now the Lord prays that we may be good, holy, like Jesus. It is through the Bible that this will come about. As we read and study, the Holy Spirit will show us the Lord Jesus. As we see Him there in the looking-glass of God's Word, He will, if we love, trust and obey Him -make us like Him. (Read 11 Corinthians3:18).
Sadly Christian people often squabble among themselves. This is very sad, Jesus wants us to unite for Him, like the different Regiments of an army, which, though wearing different uniforms should be loyal to the King and present a united front to the enemy. So all who really do belong to His army and who acknowledge Him as Saviour and Master, should love one another and work together in every possible way for His glory.
Home is where He is and He longs to have us there with Him. He prays that whatever the dangers, difficulties and disappointments we may encounter on the way, we may reach Home at last. If we trust Him as our Saviour, this prayer of His, like all others, will be answered and we shall arrive Home and see His glory there. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. (I Corinthians 2:9, 10),
I pray that you have a place in that prayer and so share these blessings for ever.