Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Model Prayer From Our Lord Jesus

East Lake - Kings Canyon National Park
Fr. Dale Matson

In our Gospel reading for today, we are given the High Priestly Prayer of Our Lord.
“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them that they may be one even as we are one.” (John 17:11-22)

I want to offer some thoughts as I read this prayer. I think of the very different structure Jesus uses in this prayer than in the prayer he gave us to pray. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13), we have a vertical relationship with God the Father. In the Lord’s Prayer, we acknowledge God’s Glory and position. Our petitions are on bended knee. In the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, I am struck by the sense of unity with God the Father that Jesus expresses in this prayer. It is a work already accomplished for the elect by Jesus and the Father. They have a partnership and a loving collaborative relationship that is revealed in this prayer. It is a prayer of supreme faith since Jesus has not even been arrested. Jesus as God is calling things that are not (yet) as though they were. (Romans 4:17) He even prays for you and me. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” In the Lord’s Prayer, we are praying to God for ourselves. In this prayer, we are prayed for by Jesus. In this prayer we are prayed into unity with God. This is also a prayer of salvation. This prayer is a model for us also. While the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer of praise, position and petition, The High Priestly Prayer is a model for us of intercession, faith and unity.  Our Epistle lesson from Jude states, “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” (Jude 21) What better verse to confirm the statement from Jesus that He is the way, the truth and the life. I especially like John Wesley’s explanation of this verse. “By these means, through his grace, keep yourselves in the love of God, and in the confident expectation of that eternal life which is purchased for you, and conferred upon you, through the mere mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I believe if we reflect on this prayer with the help of God the Holy Spirit, we will not only see Jesus in a clearer light, we will understand our relationship with Him and the Father in a much deeper way. Amen

Feast Day of John Henry Hobart Bishop of New York 1830

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