The Prayer Life of Jesus: Praying for Protection (John 17)
The Prayer Life of Jesus - John 17
“Pray for Your Spouses’ Protection”
In the game of football, the offensive line has one major job - protect the quarterback. They need to allow him the time and freedom to do what he is trained to do: hand the ball off to the running back, throw to a receiver, or run the ball down the field himself.
That’s what our prayers do for ourselves and our spouse. Prayers build a wall around our spouse’s heart so that Satan cannot break through the line and attack him or her. When we pray this way, it allows our spouse to do what he or she is trained by God to do and to do it confidently and safely.
The prayer from the prayer life of Jesus which we will consider in this study is one Jesus prayed in the upper room, before He led His disciples into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He also prayed, which we’ll study next month.
In this prayer, Jesus largely prayed for His own disciples’ protection, which I am encouraging us to do also. Let’s examine His prayer:
Consider how the late brother Guy N. Woods outlines this prayer - Jesus prays:
1) God and the Son will be glorified (verses 1-2);
2) That His disciples will have eternal life (verses 3-5);
3) That the disciples may know and believe the truth (verses 6-12);
4) That the disciples may have joy in the face of an antagonistic world (verses 13-14);
5) That the disciples may be protected from evil (verses 15-16);
6) That the disciples may be made holy and fulfill their mission (verses 17-19);
7) That the disciples may be united (verses 20-23);
8) That the disciples may participate in His glory (verses 24-26).
We will simplify that outline to just three paragraphs while recognizing the importance of each of those themes.
JESUS PRAYS FOR HIMSELF - 17:1-5:
It is okay for us to pray for ourselves!
17:1-5 - “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
There is certainly a lot of theology that we could unpack in these five verses, but the heart of his part of Jesus’ prayer is that God would glorify the Son. I believe this is another way of asking God to raise Jesus from the dead, to help protect Jesus from turning His back on the Father as Jesus goes through the trial and crucifixion ahead.
It would be through that crucifixion and resurrection that Jesus could give “eternal life” to the disciples of Christ who are followers of God. “Eternal life” is defined in verse 3 as knowing the only true God - that is, having a relationship with God - and knowing Jesus Christ whom the Father has sent.
Jesus’ life glorified the Father while He was on earth because He accomplished the work that the Father had given Him to do. So, again, in verse 5, Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him with the Father, with the glory which Jesus had before the world was created. Before the world was created, Jesus was glorified as a member of the Godhead and now He asks to receive that same glory back again. Once the world was created and mankind was created with the freedom to choose to sin, then the plan was set into motion for Jesus to become flesh and live in this world of sin.
Jesus is about to leave this world of sin and return to the Father and He asks for God’s protection as he approaches that death.
Pray for your spouse’s safety. We can never take for granted the safety of our loved ones. Accidents happen. Give your spouse comfort by praying for him or her and their safety.
JESUS PRAYS FOR HIS IMMEDIATE DISCIPLES - 17:6-19:
17:6-12 - “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”
First, observe that Jesus states that He revealed the “name” of God to the men whom God gave Him. They were God’s and He gave them to Jesus and they kept God’s word which He had given to Jesus to reveal. Now, here, the name of God, I believe refers to His nature, His character, His power, and His truth. They were faithful Jews - faithful to God; and now they have become faithful to Christ, the One God sent.
That truth led the disciples to know that everything Jesus had was from God the Father. The disciples understood that truth and received it and now have the conviction that Jesus was sent by God. So, verse 9 Jesus prays for them, not for the world. He prays for those who have accepted everything that Christ has given them which is exactly what God has given to Christ. This has led to them glorifying Christ.
Jesus is leaving the world; He speaks as if it has already happened. But the disciples are not leaving the world. So Jesus asks that the Father would keep them in His name, His nature, His character, His power, and His truth. Again, Jesus is praying for their protection, by knowing and believing the truth. “Keep them in your name.” So they can be one, which we’ll discuss shortly.
While Jesus was with them, He kept them in the “name” or “Truth” of God and He guarded them; He protected them. Everyone except Judas Iscariot, the Son of Perdition, whom the Scriptures had predicted would turn His back on the Messiah (Psa. 41:9; 109:8).
Pray for your spouse’s health. You pray for their safety; pray also for their physical health. John stated in 3 John 2, that he prayed his audience would be in good health, just as their soul prospers. Especially if you have a spouse who desires to be concerned about their physical health or needs to be concerned about their physical health - pray for him or her. Sometimes wives, in particular, get so caught up in taking care of other peoples’ needs, that she doesn’t take the time or she doesn’t have the energy to take care of herself. While there are other things we can do for her to help with that, praying for her in this area is certainly one thing we ought to be doing.
And, of course, pray for their protection against evil, that he or she will know and believe the truth. Maybe if your spouse is not a Christian and you haven’t tried this before, ask if he or she will let the two of you just read through one of the Gospel accounts. Read through the life of Jesus and don’t make too many comments; just let the Holy Spirit teach him or her through His words.
17:13-14 - “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
Jesus had already stated to His disciples in the upper room that He had shared His plans with them so that His joy may be in them and their joy may be fulfilled (15:11).
Here, Jesus prayed that God would protect His disciples from the impact that the world can have on them - by stealing joy from their hearts. Jesus is praying that His disciples will have “joy made full in themselves.” Here, the joy is closely connected to having the word of God.
Pray for your spouse to be protected from negative thinking, especially when it comes to God or Christ or their word. Pray that they will have the optimism and faith and hope that God intends for His children to have. This world is a negative place; it is discouraging. It drains energy from you. You need prayers for joy and you need to pray for your spouse to have joy.
I mentioned praying for your spouse’s health… if he or she is struggling with a certain health problem, it can also steal the joy and hope from their heart. Pray for him or her, specifically that God will protect them from Satan stealing the joy of life from their heart.
Jesus had also stated earlier, in 16:24, that they should pray and they will receive so their joy may be complete.
17:15-16 - “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
We’re praying here for our spouse’s protection. Jesus told the Father that He was not asking God to take His disciples out of the world! In that case, they would lose their influence and they could not shine as lights in a dark world. But, He did ask the Father to “keep” the disciples from “the evil one.” His disciples do not belong to the world, just as Jesus did not belong to the world. Our citizenship is in heaven.
But Satan rules this world in a very real way. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19; see also John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 John 2:13; 3:12). Jesus had taught His disciples to pray that God would keep them from the evil one in Matthew 6:13.
So we should pray that our spouse can be protected from his or her own unique temptations and be protected from those temptations. If you do not acknowledge your spouse’s weaknesses, you are not doing him or her any favors. But if you acknowledge those weaknesses and then pray for his or her protection, you will make them stronger spiritually and that will bless your marriage.
Even on the best teams, the quarterback can get sacked. We can’t be efficient 100% of the time. God knew that and this is why God sent Jesus to earth. But we can continue to pray for our spouse’s protection and not stop praying until we see an answer from God. Then we should pray a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for God’s blessings!
Finally, as far as the immediate disciples are concerned, Jesus prayed that God would bless His disciples to fulfill their mission…
17:17-19 - “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”
Jesus prays that God will “sanctify” the disciples. That is, to separate them spiritually from the evil and sin in the world. But how does sanctification come? By means of the truth, the word of God. When we listen to that word and obey that word, then we are separated from the world and put into service to the Holy God.
Jesus sent the disciples into the world to continue sharing the “name” of God and Jesus sanctified Himself so that He could glorify God and be the instrument of salvation for mankind and for the sake of the disciples, that they could be sanctified in the truth.
Pray for your spouse’s sanctification, that they would hear the word and obey the word and live the word in their own lives. That’s how we can pray for our spouse’s protection from Satan.
Pray for your spouse:
That God would protect his or her physically.
That could would protect him or her mentionably and emotionally.
That could would give him or her the energy, strength, and endurance they need to do what God has given them to do.
That he or she will also make wise steps to take care of themselves, especially spiritually.
That he or she will have the discipline necessary.
That he or she will be protected wherever he or she goes.
JESUS PRAYED FOR ALL DISCIPLES - 17:20-26:
This last paragraph extends the prayer of Jesus to the protection of all of us…
17:20-26 - “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Verse 20 shows that Jesus extends His prayer to all of us who believe in Him through the word of the apostles. It is through our allegiance and obedience to the word of the apostles that we can have true unity with each other and with God. Here, Jesus clearly elevates the inspired words of the apostles to the same level as His own. The result of Christian unity is conversion of the world. Part of the reason why the world is not converted is because people who claim to believe in Jesus cannot find unity on the basis of His word. That’s not Jesus’ fault; it’s our fault for not having the humility and self-control to limit ourselves to just what the Bible teaches and nothing more and nothing less.
We, His disciples of a later generation, are also glorified (ver. 22). We are glorified in Christ when we are united together with Christ and we walk with Him and talk His talk. Jesus prayed that we would be “perfected in unity” (ver. 23), which happens only when we agree on what the Bible says and allow it and it alone to frame our thoughts and our beliefs. If we are united with the words of Christ, then the world will believe that Jesus has sent us.
Jesus wants us to be with Him so we can see the glory He had with the Father before the world was. Jesus, through the teachings of the apostles, has made Himself known so that God’s love, the love with which He loved the Son, can be in us and Christ may dwell in us.
Pray your spouse will be protected in the love of God.
Listen to the voice of the Lord:
Psalm 18:2-3 - “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 91:9-12 - “For you have made the Lord, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.”
Jeremiah 30:17 - “For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her.” ’
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
James 5:15 - “The prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
Take home message: Pray for your spouse’s protection: physically, from temptation, emotionally, from discouragement, from temptations, and especially spiritually.