June 1, 2009

Praying Out

Maybe I should have called this post praying outwardly. It is a reflection on John 17, often referred to as the High Priestly Prayer. It comes at the end of Jesus' last teaching of the apostles in a lengthy passage in John 13-16 referred to as The Upper Room Discourse. I want to focus on not what Jesus prayed for, although there is much that we can benefit from deep study of this chapter in John. I want to focus on how Jesus prayed here. He prayed outwardly.

Jesus prays for Himself in 17:1-5; He prays for His disciples in 17:6-19 and prays for believers everywhere and at all times in 17:20-26. He starts at the center and moves out, broadening the people covering by His prayer as He prays. I take a few things from this:

  • It is not selfish to pray for yourself first. In fact, it is the opposite. Focusing your prayer on God and self first helps bring you to the right place to be when coming before the Father in praise and supplication. Get yourself centered in God, and let your prayer flow from that. Jesus prayed for a right relationship between Him and the Father first and foremost. How could the rest of His prayer be ineffective if He was right with God from the start?
  • Take care of home. Jesus prayed for those closest to Him in friendship and ministry after He prayed for Himself. Clearly praying for those around you to be in a right relationship with God is of extremely importance to each of us. We need to encourage and exhort one another; we need that support in close to be effective in prayer across His kingdom.
  • Keep going out. Pray for the familiar, but continue to pray beyond your backyard. Pray across the street and across the ocean. The body of Christ cherishes the prayers of the body, no matter from whence it comes.

The picture shows a depiction of our circles of influence my church used a few years ago. I think it is a good way to portray these thoughts on how we ought to pray. Follow the pattern of John 17, pray as you can learn to do at the feet of the Master.


11 comments:

sumptersam said...

thank you for this...i always thought praying for myself first was wrong..thanks for this new understanding!

Andy C said...

It was a bit of an eye opener for me as well.

Laurie M. said...

Me too, I really like this post. I think it helps to pray for ourselves first. It gets our feet back on secure footing, then we feel ready to move outward. Thanks for the encouragement.

Sten-Erik said...

Thanks, Andy - Great perspective. Prayer is something we too often take for granted. People tend to either be intimidated by the idea of prayer, or treat it like a slot-machine.

John 17 is a great place to go to in order to learn how to pray.

Sten-Erik said...

Did you give up on Intense Debate as your comment tracking tool? If so, why? I've been debating (if you'll pardon the pun) dropping it as well.

Andy C said...

Laurie: Thanks for the encouragement of your comments and support. This one came out of my school studies.

Andy C said...

Sten-Erik:

I have Dr. P to thank for the teaching on John this past semester for pointing me at this. I am still using Intense Debate, but somehow this sometimes happens: I get the old system instead.

inhocsignos said...

AMEN by brother Andy! Great perspective and concise instruction. I loved reading this. Thank you for sharing and teaching.

Andy C said...

Thanks for stopping by to read. Glad you enjoyed it.

Peter P said...

Cool picture Andy!

Great analysis too.

Thanks!

Andy C said...

Peter:

Thanks! I guess I am seeing benefit from a seminary education.