This Lenten season, I'm doing something I've always wanted to do. I'm reading or listening to Jesus pray, every day. For me. I'm focusing on Jesus's last supper prayer in John 17.
The Gospels contain numerous mentions of Jesus praying. I won't list them all here (although it's a great treasure hunt!). He prayed when He was healing, He prayed over food, He prayed over children, He prayed while doing miracles. He prayed as He prepared to die.
Oh how He prayed that night before He died.
The whole chapter is the prayer Jesus prayed before leaving for Gethsemane. He had finished His last words to them with: "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)" And with that, He plunged into prayer.
Thankfully, the Apostle John left us a record of Jesus's mighty and gentle prayer. It's raw and personal. We're listening in on the Son pouring out His heart to His Father. There is no formality. No caution. No format.
The 26 verses let us listen in on the Son as He honored and claimed His Father, as He celebrated their oneness, and as He identified and claimed His people. As He spoke into eternity and named us: the people who would come from those people in that very room were to be His people. His own. God's own. That's us and all who ever have been and will be redeemed.
Jesus says: "I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 6:24)"
How much closer can we be to the Father than as close as Jesus is?! How do we even measure that or appreciate it?? Just by knowing it.
He is our birthright. We are known by Him to know Him. We are loved by Him to love Him. Seamless - forever.
Jesus prayed in that present moment into our present moment. That prayer wasn't contained by time - it was then and every moment that has come since then. He prayed that shortly He died - before the veil in the temple was torn and shredded - making our access to Him seamless.
I hope you've had the experience of hearing someone pray out loud for you. Someone who leans into the Father, reverently and passionately, knowingly. Personally claiming; confidently asking; desperately pleading. In hearing that kind of prayer, you sense that you're known better than you know yourself. You hear needs you have that you may not have been able to explain. You hear someone else give voice to them. And give voice to you.
Jesus prayed that way for us. We are known by Him to know Him. We are loved by Him to love Him.
The next time the disciples heard Jesus pray was on the seaside as He served them breakfast. Most of them had been in hiding when He prayed from the cross. Since His ascension, Jesus has stood as He stands even now, at the right hand of the Father, interceding. Praying for us.
John 17 is perhaps Jesus's most important earthly words for us. I'll stop writing about Jesus's prayer and just implore you to go read it or listen to it.
He's praying for you.
"I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known,
that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."
- John 17:26