Pastor Bruce Simpkins
Renewal Community Church
Preached: May 16, 2010
It was Thursday night. Jesus and His disciples were gathered in the upper room for the evening meal. It started out as a normal Passover, but this would prove to be an evening unlike any other evening in all of history.
John 13:2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
Even before anything had begun, Judas was already planning to betray Jesus . . . and Jesus knew it . . . Then Jesus washed the disciples feet. Peter declined Jesus’ service, but Judas kept silent. Peter learned the lesson why Jesus MUST wash their feet, but Judas didn’t.
Then Jesus predicts that Judas would betray Him and Judas leaves. Jesus also predicts Peter will deny Him 3 times but Peter stays. Jesus tells them He is going away to prepare a place for them in Heaven and He predicts the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches them that He is the vine and they are the branches and that they can only produce fruit if they stay connected to the vine. Jesus gives them His great command: “Love each other as I have loved you”. Jesus warns them that the world will hate them but to remember that the world hated Jesus first. He promised that later on the Holy Spirit would make everything clear. He taught them that when they pray, that they should pray in His name.
It took 4 chapters to cover one evening of events and teachings . . . John 13 through 16.
Then Jesus turned His attention away from the disciples to pray to God the Father. This prayer of Jesus is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. It is the entire chapter 17.
It is through this long prayer of Jesus that we learn that there is another element of prayer that is often overlooked. We have learned again and again that prayer is a dialog with God in which there is both speaking and listening . . . but there is another aspect of prayer I don’t believe I have ever preached about before . . . We must allow ourselves to be PRAYED FOR. This can be a very under-appreciated aspect of prayer. Sometimes the best prayers on our behalf are the ones someone else prays for us. You may have come to place in your life where you are very good at serving others in prayer. And you may be good at taking care of your own personal needs in faithful prayer. But then still feel uncomfortable to let others pray FOR us.
Just as it was important for the disciples to let Jesus wash their feet, it was also important to let Him pray for them . . . and to put themselves under His prayers. When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, He told them that He was setting an example of what they should do for each other . . . and I believe this prayer FOR the disciples that followed the foot washing is also an example of what we should do for each other.
I have a friend who attends a weekly prayer meeting with a few other men and myself. We were about to pray but someone knew he was having some trouble with his mortgage and asked how it was going. He then shared that foreclosure had begun and they just signed the papers for bankruptcy. After the prayer time, I asked him why he didn’t ask for prayer without being asked. He told me he didn’t want to divert our prayers for everyone else with his troubles.
You see, it can feel like an imposition to be prayed FOR. And being prayed FOR makes yourself kind of vulnerable. But if we do not allow people to pray FOR us, we lose the healing connection to the body of Christ. It takes a mature Christian to put yourself under someone else’s prayer shield. It is humbling to admit that I am not adequate in myself to pray for all of my own needs. I need the body. We must be as one.
I asked Kevin if I could share this, but we were chatting a couple of weeks ago about his confinement to his wheelchair. He said, (something like) “Every chance I get to let someone pray for me to get out of this chair I take it”! When I heard him say that, I thought that was a very spiritually mature thing to say. It takes a kind of humility to say that. It requires putting himself under someone else’s prayer, and trusting God through a brother or sister in the Lord.
But the best prayer that we need to put ourselves under is this long prayer of Jesus in chapter 17 of John. Did you know that Jesus prayed for YOU in the Bible? He did. He prayed for His disciples, but also in John 17:20 Jesus prayed: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.
This long prayer of Jesus is for His disciples AND for those of us who believe in Him through their message. So lets take a couple of minutes and look at what Jesus prayed for us.
Verse 2-3 He prayed that we would have eternal life.
Verse 13 He prayed that we would have His full measure of joy within us.
Verse 15 He prayed that we would be protected from the evil one.
Verse 11-19 He prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth of His word.
What does it mean to be sanctified? . . . purified, cleansed, set apart for a purpose, made holy and acceptable to God, made more and more like Christ Himself. By His word, which we are studying right now, that we are sanctified.
But there is something especially important that He sprinkles throughout this entire prayer. He prayed that we would be one, just as the trinity is one. Entirely unified in oneness with each other. Anytime Jesus repeats something over and over, we should pay close attention to it. He repeats this prayer of unity for us 6 times:
At the end of John 17:11 Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one.
John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
John 17:21 May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
John 17:22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one
John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity
He concludes this long prayer for His disciples and for us with this last statement:
John 17:26 So that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
Don’t miss this repeated message:
The Father, The Son, AND every believer in Christ, through this prayer, through the cross of Jesus, and through the work of the Holy Spirit He sent to us are made ONE. We must allow ourselves to be put under this prayer of Jesus and integrated into the oneness of unity and community of all believers everywhere called, The Church.
We become one when we pray for one another. How can we be one if we are all out fighting our individual battles by ourselves? We must allow people to pray for us. But in order to pray for one another, we must become transparent and let people see us as we really are . . . especially our weaknesses so that they can intercede for us where we are weak.
If you weren’t afraid of keeping your smiley church face on and keeping up appearances, what would you be letting people pray for? Who wouldn’t want to be prayed FOR if they felt free in the Lord to allow it?
We are all doing spiritual battle out there, not just the pastor. We all desperately need to be prayed FOR. Who do you pray FOR on a regular basis from this Northview body? If the answer is no one, let me suggest that choose someone and start faithfully praying FOR them. This is the example Jesus gave us just before He went to the cross. And it isn’t just a suggestion I am making up.
James concludes his epistle with this final statement: James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Praying for each other is powerful. It covers a multitude of sins. Paul sure understood the need to be prayed FOR. In several of his letters he asked the body to pray for him. If Paul needed it, we certainly need it.
Don’t fight your battles alone. Let someone pray FOR you. Not prayers of judgment, but prayer of healing and strength and encouragement and forgiveness . . . prayers of protection and sanctification by the truth of His Word.
I would like to take some time right now and just pray for whoever wants to be prayed for today. Everyone NEEDS to be prayed for. Who isn’t struggling in some way or another and needs to be prayed FOR right now? Will you let me or someone pray FOR you?
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