Reflections by Dawn Moore
Like you, I regularly pray for those I love. And like most parents, my prayers for my children are especially frequent and fervent. I pray for all sorts of major and minor life details for them—an indication that they are always close to my heart. When they were younger, we prayed together at regular intervals, including each morning just before the school bus arrived. But now that they are adults and out on their own, they rarely get a personal glimpse into my prayers for them.
In John 17:20-26 we get a rare firsthand look at Jesus’ prayers for us. He prays very specifically for “those who will believe”—that’s you and me! He opens his prayer by asking that we believers would be united as one, just as he and the Father are one. He then expresses his desire that we would be with him and see his glory. Finally, he asks that we be filled with his love, the love of the Father.
These are three beautiful requests that our Savior prayed for each one of us. Consider that still today Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father, continuing to intercede on behalf of you and me. In a world that feels hopelessly divided, I can think of no prayers more urgent or relevant than Jesus' three recorded petitions for us: for believers to be united, to be where Jesus is, and to be filled to the brim with the love of the Father. In verse 23, Jesus tells us what will happen when this prayer is finally answered: The world will see and will know that he is the Messiah!
Prayer beneath a cross.
One day last summer my whole family gathered for an evening meal around the picnic table, and I agreed to offer grace. As I began, the Spirit prompted me to pray deeper, as I would on my own, in the wee hours of the morning. While the freshly grilled steak tempted our senses, I prayed for each of my adult children and their husbands (7 in all) in a specific way. I prayed about jobs, babies yet to be, homes, school, marriages, purpose, and more. When I finally said, “Amen,” I was greeted with tears of thanks, rather than sighs of relief.
John Calvin said, “To make intercessions for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.” Certainly Jesus expressed his love for us most powerfully when he died on the cross and rose again, but the fact that he also intercedes specifically for us and has allowed us a glimpse at those intimate private prayers is a beautiful gift of love.
I've been working on listening to the Spirit when prompted to pray for someone, and sometimes that involves taking a risk to pray out loud and in the moment with a friend or even a stranger. It's so much easier to say, "I'll pray for you," than to say, "Can I pray for you right now?", but I've found this question is typically welcomed as a gift. Give it a try! In so doing you will take a tangible step in carrying out the prayer of Jesus by demonstrating unity, being where Jesus is, and showing the love of the Father. For these tasks, prayer is the most powerful tool we've got.
Dawn Moore is lay editor and editorial coordinator at Christian History Institute
For more on Christian unity see the interview in the last issue of Christian History magazine (Issue 122). The third hour of our film series This Changed Everything focuses on this topic from many different perspectives.