For centuries the Gospel of John was discounted as being non-essential. Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered to have given instruction of exactly how things ought to be, while John gave wispy, imaginary episodes that taught nothing in particular. Now we know that John is the weightiest of the four gospels because he speaks mostly of the spiritual realm, the true realm that we who are born again are living in right now.
Jesus lived in both the natural realm, since He came to earth as a man, and He lived in the spiritual realm because He knew, being the God who laid aside His deity to live as man, with man, and as an example to man, He knew that the spiritual realm gives natural man his force. He had to demonstrate that to us as it had never been taught before. Here, at the end of His ministry, He gives key secrets to His prayer life.
In John’s gospel we have only the words of Jesus as He spoke about His own praying. Since we are made in His image, and we want to become more like Him day by day, these are words we must meditate on, mutter and mimic.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever,“ (John 14:16).
The word helper means, in Greek, “one just like me.” He is speaking of the Holy Spirit who, after Jesus has been resurrected, will come and live inside all true believers. He will live there forever, even if we sin, even if we make fools of ourselves, even if we bring shame on our Lord, He will be there. God is not bothered by our misbehavior, He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us and direct our steps. Whatever mess we get ourselves into, He will get us out. But notice that Jesus is telling the disciples what He will pray, before His death. The disciples could not pray such a prayer beforehand. But once Jesus prayed the prayer, God the Father complied.
Chapters 13 through 17 of John all take place at the Last Supper. After they had eaten, Jesus took a towel and a basin of water and washed the disciples’ feet. From there He gives them instructions until He concludes their evening with His own prayer. All of chapter 17 is Jesus’ own prayer.
As we can see from the previous Scripture, Jesus speaks about what will happen before His trial, and then He speaks about what will happen after His death, burial, and resurrection. The disciples still do not have a clue of what is about to happen, and Jesus is preparing them without actually depicting the events to come. He wants them to grasp the spiritual reality, which they eventually do. All of us humans are the same. It takes some time for truths to sink in, even if we have God Himself describing them to us.
“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;” (John 16:26).
Now Jesus is speaking about after His resurrection. Afterwards, the disciples are able to ask for things themselves because the Holy Spirit will be in them. When Jesus appeared in the Upper Room, having walked through the wall and surprising them mightily, He breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The way had been prepared for the Helper to come. It’s what happens to all of us when we are born again. The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us. Breath and wind are the symbols of the Holy Spirit. When the disciples pray from this time on, God will be as attentive to their prayers as He was to those of Jesus.
Notice that He instructs them to pray in His name. I’ve heard all kinds of sermons about this. I don’t believe it’s because we’re not worthy so we must put His name up as some kind of a screen, keeping us from God’s wrath. No. That isn’t it. What is true is that Jesus has been given all authority, He has sent all power in the person of the Holy Spirit, and when we pray in that name, we are establishing that all authority and all power are in our prayer. When we realize the name of Jesus IS all authority and all power, we will use that name in a discretionary manner, as if carrying a live nuclear bomb in our hands.
Whatever we ask, believing we receive, we will have it. I’ll point out that Scripture to you, but consider, if the Scripture said, whatever we ask we will receive, hey, that’s a piece of cake. But it doesn’t say that. It says:
23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:23, 24).
There’s that tidy little phrase, “believe that you receive them.” What? Believe it before I can see it? What do you take me for, a fool?” We may look foolish to the world, but the natural realm does not operate by faith. They operate by works. We work by faith. The just shall live by faith. So it behooves us to believe in the words we pray, believe they are heard and agreed upon by God our Father, and believe that because we asked in Jesus name and prayed according to His will, we have what we prayed for. Can we see it? Not yet, except in our imagination, and that delightful place is a wonderful way to believe that we receive what we ask for. We can, and should, see it in our imagination. When we actually have it in our possession, we will no longer need our faith, nor our imagination. We have it in natural reality. We believed for it in spiritual reality.
"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours,” (John 17:9).
One of the reasons Jesus came to the earth was to deliver us to Our Heavenly Father. He came for many reasons, but His main one was to restore a ruptured relationship. We dropped off. We turned away. We preferred the darkness and abandoned our Father God. Even though He created us, and wanted us for His family, there was nothing He could do about our disloyalty. Parents know a little bit of what that’s like: when our children are teen-agers and they’re angry, accusing us of ruining their lives, we have a little taste of what it is like for God our Father when His Beloved child turns away, seemingly never wanting to come back. It appears from this prayer that God the Father and God the Son know the ones who will not return – the world. We know from Scripture that God wants them all to return, but will they? He won’t force them. He can’t. He would go against His own Word if He acted any other way than that of waiting—waiting until it is time to close the door.
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one,” (John 17:15).
Though we, true believers, live in the Kingdom of God right now, we are not taken away from the influence of the world. What the Lord wants is for us to influence them, not for them to influence us. Unfortunately, so often church people look so much like worldly people that the influence they should have on the world is gone. However, the evil one is a real issue with which we must contend. The New Testament doesn’t give a lot of attention to the devil, or Satan. What it does is give us the power and authority to deal with the defeated one. Until Jesus returns, Satan is free to roam the world looking for whom He may devour. Realize that he is not alone. He has millions of demons with him. They are a real nuisance, until we learn we can use the name of Jesus against them and they run like their pants are on fire. (And maybe they are!) God keeps up a guard, and He tends to the bigger demons, while we control the lesser ones.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;”(John 17:20).
Isn’t this absolutely beautiful? Here’s where my name comes into the New Testament, and yours, too. The disciples made more disciples, who made more disciples, who made more disciples, and so it went down through history until someone came to me and showed me the way to the Lord. That’s your story, too. We’re never told to pray that the unsaved will get born again. Jesus already saved them on the cross. What we are told to do is pray for workers to be sent into the harvest and speak with those who will listen to them. There are some people who just won’t listen to us, like our families for one example. But there are others they will listen to. Ask the Lord to send that person to your loved ones, and then ask Him to send you to someone. If we all asked the Lord for one person a day who would listen to us and receive Him as their Lord, we’d have a tremendous harvest in a very short time!
LET’S DO IT!