The Other Lord’s Prayer

by Ken Francis

(Based on John 17:1-26)
[Entrée: For max benefit from this reflection, first read the ‘other’ Lord’s Prayer here at John 17]

So, Jesus was in the habit of praying.

What about you?  How does praying work for you?  Do you have a set time?  A set place?  A set routine?  Or are you more free-form?!  More random?  Perhaps you’re someone who is constantly in prayer, moment by moment, as Paul the Apostle seemed to be.  How important is a regular prayer routine?

Well, Jesus was in the habit of praying.  For example, in Luke 5 we get: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Luke 11:1: “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.”  Mark 1:35: “Jesus got up very early in the morning to pray.”  Matthew 14:23: “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”

So, again, Jesus was in the habit of praying.  It was an anchor for him.  So when came his greatest time of greatest testing it was perfectly natural for him to default to prayer mode, as we have read in the entrée.  He prays intimately, and with familiarity.  And with confidence that he really is talking to his Father God. 
And he really was confident.  There’s a very telling incident in John 11.  This is where Jesus has arrived after the death of Lazarus – four days after the death of Lazarus – and he prays – out loud – for Lazarus’s recovery.  It says here, “Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe …’”
Wouldn’t you like to have been there!

Jesus was in the habit of praying.  This too should be our easy default when we’re stretched, challenged, troubled …

This is the Lord’s prayer.  When we think of the Lord’s Prayer, we usually think of, “Our Father, who is in heaven, holy be your name …”  Etc.  But I think of this, in John 17, as truly the Lord’s prayer.  It’s the only actual prayer we have of Jesus longer than a sentence or two.  It’s a beautiful prayer, for all sorts of reasons, and I hope you find it so. 

It’s common to think this is the actual prayer he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, before his execution.  But I’m not so sure.  For one thing, although we’re told it happened just after the last supper, after this prayer, says John 18:1, they then walked to the Garden.  Also, when he was praying in the Garden, the other Gospels tell us, he moved away a little, and the disciples went to sleep!  So, how did John know what he prayed, and so record it, if this was that prayer?  How would he have heard it if he was asleep?  So, was this actually the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane?! 

Who knows?

Anyway, did you notice the shape of this great prayer?  First Jesus prays for himself – an intimate, loving exchange between him and Abba, his Father.  He’s troubled, he almost seems to need some encouragement that he’s on the right track.  Then he prays for others: his disciples initially: an amazing prayer, focussing on unity.  And the third stanza has him praying for us!  For those, he says, who will come later.  Us!

I find this very moving!

Our granddaughter rang us during the week – she quite often does, which is pretty wonderful.  She’s seventeen.  Usually her chatter is trivial and teenage girly stuff.  But this time I felt bold enough to ask her, “well that’s all the good stuff going on in your life – anything getting you down at all?”  And surprisingly she did share a couple of things, and one of them was that she was trying to get back to her Bible, and was frustrated that she couldn’t get a routine going, and she knew she had to.  We chatted about the practicalities of that, but next day, thinking about it, I realised this was not so much about Bible reading routine but more about … a weakening faith.  With all sorts of teenage things going on in her life, relationships and media and stuff, impossible teenage temptations, she’s struggling with her faith, and she realises she has to stay connected … anchored … with God’s Word, if she’s going to hang in there.
This realisation has caused me some concern since, and I’ve been praying for her – that, Father, “… please watch over her … protect her by your sovereign power …” “She belongs to you, so make yourself known to her.”  “Convince her of the truth … your word is truth.”  And at the same time I’ve been preparing this reflection, and it’s struck me that this is exactly what Jesus was praying for his disciples, and us, here in John 17.  ‘Abba, guard them, don’t let them be snatched away!’  A prayer we might be praying for our own children and grandchildren, and those descendants who come further down the century.  And for each other.

My point is, let’s make parts of this, the Lord’s prayer, our prayer.

Just a couple of other things before we, now having a better big picture, read it again:

  • At the time he prayed this, just consider Jesus’s mental/emotional state. He was within twenty four hours of his execution, and he knew what was coming.  So the prayer is tense, and comes from a deep emotional reservoir as he prays for us.
  • Do you realise Jesus is still praying for us? It’s stated in three places in the New Testament.  Heb 7:24, for example, says “… he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he’s always interceding for them.”  Jesus is always interceding for us!

Indeed, Abba. Thy will be done – on earth, as it is in heaven!

[Epilogue: To read again this ‘other Lord’s Prayer’. Here it is: Link]

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