The Lord's Prayer, Part One
Jesus never prayed with His disciples. He always prayed alone. When you and I pray--and I've had great times of fellowship with other believers in prayer--we take the place as sinners together before the grace of God. But Jesus couldn't have done that. He couldn't have said to the disciples, "Come on. Let's get down on our knees and cry out to God," because He was God and they were men.
The prayer in John 17 is written down by John, but John was not there when it was prayed. I believe that the Holy Spirit, later on, by dictation inspiration, word for word, gave to John the words spoken here. This is the true Lord's Prayer.
My early spiritual life was formed in no small measure by certain experiences with God in prayer meetings. I can remember, when I was sixteen or seventeen, going with a half dozen young men in our late teens to the top of Mt. Wilson in California and spending the entire night on the mountain praying and waiting for the sunrise. I worked for a summer helping to build the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles. I thank God for that summer where, for eight hours every day, I carried ninety pounds of cement and God built up the constitution of a horse which enabled me to do the work of a horse for all the years since.
One night several of us decided that we wanted to have a prayer meeting. The church building was up to about twelve stories at that time, a reinforced-concrete affair, and it had a little elevator powered by a "dunky" engine. We told the elevator operator that we wanted to go up to the top and spend the night in prayer. So, just at closing time we went up and the elevator with its "dunky" engine, went back down and the operator went home. There were no stairs or ladders or any other way down. We spent all night in prayer. And the seven men who were on that rooftop, without exception, have gone on in the work of the Lord. For instance, Van Eddings later founded the Orinoco River Mission in Venezuela. Oscar Zimmerman started the Emmanuel Mission to Seamen and Albert Siegle went on to spend his life in Thailand and Bangkok as a missionary.
When we prayed together, in those times of laying hold of God and surrender of self, and asking Him to deal with the innermost being of our sin, we were together in a fellowship that recognized our sinfulness. This is why Jesus never prayed with the disciples. He wouldn't have gotten down and said, "0 Lord, we come miserable sinners." You discover that He always prayed alone-when He went alone in the mountain, to pray, or He departed by the lake and prayed, or He rose a great while before day and prayed.
Now He taught the disciples how to pray. He said, "Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). And people have come to call that "The Lord's Prayer," but that's not "The Lord's Prayer," that's "The Disciples' Prayer." This prayer in John 17 is The Lord's Prayer. This is a conversation inside the Trinity. When I was a young Bible student, I began to think of God talking with God, and on a page in my notebook, I wrote "Conversations Inside the Trinity." As I read the Bible, every time I came to one of these conversations I would just turn to that page and write the message. And, so you have references such as Psalm 110:1, "Jehovah said to My Lord, 'Sit at My right hand till I make your enemies your footstool."' Or, Hebrews 10:5-7, "when Christ came into the world, He said to God the Father . . . 'Lo, I have come to do Thy will, O God."' Or such verses as Genesis 1:26; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, all indicate conversations within the Trinity. This was God conversing with God.
Now note, I want you to see the last line in John 14. They had been in the upper room and the last line of chapter 14 says, "Arise, let us go hence" (John 14:31). Then the first line of chapter 15 says, "I am the true vine." I believe that this was spoken in full moonlight because there is always a full moon at Passover. You never had an Easter week without a full moon because the whole of the Passover is centered around the time of the full moon. As Jesus and the disciples went out toward the Mount of Olives, they passed a wall with a great vine climbing along it. Jesus looked at the vine in the bright light of the full moon and said, "I am the true vine." And through chapters 15 and 16, Jesus spoke to the disciples. Then, if we go to the other Gospels (see Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:32-42) we discover the disciples continually falling asleep while Jesus was praying. In John 17 He began to pray to the Father, and I believe God put this chapter here in order to show us what Jesus is praying today.
- What does Christ’s prayer in this passage model for us?
- Why should we model our prayers after this one?
If we think this passage illuminates truth about prayer, then we ought to pray diligently. How can we do that in light of what is taught here?
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