Reflections on the prayer of Jesus in John 17 and what it means for those of us who have an area of ministry.
“Ministry” is simply another word for area of service. It is about service, not title. The responsibilities God gives us can be a burden, or a thrill. Hard, yes, but exciting. Best seen as an adventure of faith, rather than a task to be done. Jesus carried more responsibility than anyone, and carried it out with enviable peace. His secret? How did the Gospels becoming Acts? He, “often withdrew” to pray, Lk 5.16, and his praying had an impact on the disciples, Lk 11.1ff. John recording his prayer, John 17, at least in part so that we could learn from him.
1. LOOK UP FOR A BIGGER VISION
“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heavena and prayed: Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” v1
Q: Do you have a vision as to how God will be glorified in and through your ministry? Pray for that.
2. ACCEPT WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU
“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” vv2-4
Q: Does anything stand between you and fully embracing the ministry God has given you? Pray for that.
3. OUR TASK IS TO REVEAL GOD TO PEOPLE
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.” v6
Q: In that way can people get to know God, and know Him better through your ministry? Pray for that.
4. GIVE THE WORD TO CREATE ONENESS
“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. …I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” v11b-15
It’s noticeable that Jesus does not use the word ‘unity’. Instead – “one”. This is more relational than structural. The goal in ministry is not to have the same goal, but the same heart and mind in pursuit of that goal. This comes through giving people the Word, v17. One hundred pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork will automatically be in tune with one another. Let’s tune people to Jesus through the Word.
Q: How is the ‘oneness’ of your ministry? Pray for that.
5. SEND PEOPLE OUT
“As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” v18 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” vv20-23
It’s not just about us, but the next generation.
Q: What plans do you have to send people out? Pray for that.
Q: Who are you praying for that will ‘believe’ as a result of your ministry? Pray for that.
“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” v26
It’s all about love in the end. Was this prayer answered? Survey the book of Acts and I think you get your answer. God got the glory, the whole church embraced their purpose, God was revealed in His power, inclusivity and love, the church remained one despite challenges – in fact, made stronger by them – and sending was in the church DNA and continued into next generation.
When praying for your ministry, you could use this acronym to remember the points above:
G.A.R.O.S. spells, ‘garos’, which, as we all know, is the Greek-Cypriot word for, “donkey”! Why not join me in praying the ‘garos’ prayer for your ministry this week?