John 17:20-23 – I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one — as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (NLT)
As a member of the prayer ministry of our church, I began every Monday on my computer reading and praying for all those who had made requests during several services the Sunday before. The requests were varied, with earnest petitions for the many dysfunctional relationships, financial crises, and spiritual concerns. These sessions weighed heavily on me. Would I be able to pray with enough compassion and concern for these dear ones? This is where I prayed and asked the Father for the direction I should take in my prayers.
After a period of reflection, I found myself going to the prayer of our Lord as found in John 17. In the first verses of the chapter, Jesus begins by praying for Himself. Later, He prays for His disciples, and then, He prays for us, His believers. His plea to the Father was given at a time when He was to face His own crisis: death on the cross. He expressed such compassion and care for us even though He was facing a burdensome mental and physical hardship of His own. I wonder if He was able to pray with such compassion under such duress because He first prayed for Himself. Although we are often reluctant to pray for ourselves, thinking it to be selfish, how can we do less than follow His example when we are in the service of the Master?
A clue to sharing Jesus' compassion is the focus of His prayer on His strong desire for unity in His body, the Church. The apostle Paul describes unity so well:
Colossians 3:12b-13a,14-15 – Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. (NASB)
Prayer: Dear Father, we thank You for Your deep awareness of our need for unity as members of the body of Christ. Give us peace in our hearts as we seek to love each other by bearing each other's burdens with kindness and love. For we ask this in Christ's name. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Pass Me Not O Gentle Saviour" (Lyrics)