Little whispers and groans could be heard from squirmy children when the pastor asked my great uncle to close the service in prayer. They knew he never hurried his prayers. For me, I can still hear his voice as he called on his heavenly Father. A hush came into my heart the children’s whines couldn’t drown out. He unashamedly expressed his heart’s love for the Father and the Father’s love for him. His prayer revealed his relationship with God. It’s sad to know most heart-felt prayers are done in private.
I am thankful for the apostle John’s record of one of Jesus’s last prayers. We can learn much about his heart from that experience. Jesus begins his prayer in John 17 for himself. We can follow his example. For it is good to meet with the Father personally before moving to prayer for others.
Jesus’s betrayal and death loom in his heart as he begins-
“Father, the hour is come:
glorify thy Son,
that thy Son also may glorify thee:”
Earlier that week Jesus explained the road to be taken for this prayer to be answered.
“And Jesus answered them, saying,
The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Except a corn of what fall into the ground and die,
it abideth alone:
but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
He that loveth his life shall lose it;
and he that hateth his life in this world
shall keep it unto life eternal.
If any man serve me, let him follow me;
and where I am, there shall also my servant be;
If any man serve me,
him will my Father honor.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say?
Father save me from this hour:
but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Father, glorify they name.
Then came there a voice from heaven, saying,
I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Before glory came the cross – the sacrifice of self into the Father’s plan. With the submission of self comes the Father’s promise of honor. Jesus knew the road of suffering ahead. Yet, his heart followed the Father for he knew the Father. He asks us to do the same remembering the Father’s promise.
Jesus kept his eyes on this promise as he continued to pray.
“As thou hast given him power over all flesh,
that he should give eternal life
to as many as thou hast given him.”
Jesus knew what was his in the Father.
“Therefore doth my Father love me,
because I lay down my life,
that I might take it again.
No man taketh it from me,
but I lay it down of myself.
I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it again.
This commandment have I received of my Father…
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…Believest thou this?”
John 10:17b,18; 11:25,26b
Jesus held the promises of the Father in his heart. He trusted the Father’s authority, power, his word. He trusted his love.
Jesus knew his suffering carried purpose.
“And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee
the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
whom thou hast sent.”
Jesus’s purpose was to make the Father known. Ours is the same.
“No man hath seen God at any time;
the only begotten Son,
which is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath declared him.”
Jesus’s heart for the Father completed his work.
“I have glorified thee on the earth:
I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”
Jesus’s heart was set on pleasing the Father through the work the Father ordained for him. Is ours?
“Jesus saith unto them,
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me,
and to finish his work…
But that the world may know that I love the Father;
and as the Father gave me commandment,
even so I do.
Arise, let us go hence.”
John 4:34; 14:31
Jesus’s heart was for the world to know the love of the Father through him. His obedience proved his love.
Jesus could do what he did for his heart longed for his true home where he would be reunited with his Father.
“And now, O Father,
glorify thou me with thine own self
with the glory which I had with thee
before the world was.”
Looking into Jesus’s prayer we receive a glimpse of his heart – a heart set on glorifying the Father- a heart set on the eternal. I wonder what our prayers would reveal about our heart?