In every way Jesus was a man to be our example in all things. Even prayer. Do you remember Psalm 2? How like that is Jesus statement to His disciples? This lesson discusses this remarkable truth.
This is a review of With Christ In The School Of Prayer by Andrew Murray with plenty of exercises along the way. Feel free to study along and improve your prayer life. As Murray said, “Power with God is the highest attainment of the life of full abiding.” I invite you to leave any questions or comments in the comments section below to enrich our learning. To go to the start of this series click here.
27: Christ the High Priest
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am. – John 17:24
In His parting address, Jesus gives His disciples the full revelation of what the new life was to be when the kingdom of God had come in power. They were to find their calling and their blessedness with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in union with the heavenly Vine as they went forth to witness and to suffer for Him. As He set forth their future new life, the Lord had repeatedly given the most unlimited promises of power their prayers might have.
And now in closing, He proceeds to pray. To let His disciples have the joy of knowing what His intercession for them as their High Priest in heaven will be, He gives this precious legacy of His prayer to the Father. He does this at the same time because they are to share as priests in His work of intercession that they and we might know how to perform this holy work. In the teaching of our Lord on this last night, we have learned to understand that these astonishing prayer promises have not been given on our behalf but in the interest of the Lord and His kingdom. It is from the Lord that we can learn what prayer in His name is to be. We have understood that to pray in His name is to pray in perfect unity with Him; the high-priestly prayer will teach all that the prayer in the name of Jesus may ask and expect.
This prayer is ordinarily divided into three parts. Our Lord first prays for Himself (John 17:1-5), then for His disciples (John 17:6-19), and lastly for all the believing people through all ages (John 17:20-26). The follower of Jesus who gives himself to the work of intercession and gladly prays blessing down upon his circle of friends in the name of Jesus will in all humility let himself be led by the Spirit to study this wonderful prayer as one of the most important lessons in the school of prayer.
First of all, Jesus prays for Himself, for His glorification that He may glorify the Father. Father, the hour is come; clarify thy Son . . . And now, O Father, clarify thou me (John 17:1, 5). Then He brings forward the grounds on which He prays. A holy covenant had been concluded between the Father and the Son in heaven. The Father had promised Him power over all flesh as the reward of His work; He had done the work; He had glorified the Father. His one purpose now is still to glorify Him. With the utmost boldness, He asks that the Father may glorify Him that He may be and do for His people all He has undertaken.
Disciple of Jesus, here you have the first lesson in your work of intercession to be learned from the example of your Great High Priest. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray in unity and sympathy with Him. As the Son began His prayer by making clear His relationship to the Father, He pled His work and obedience and His desire to see the Father glorified. We must also do so. Draw near and appear before the Father in Christ. Plead His finished work. Say that you are one with that finished work and that you trust in it and live by it. Say that you too have given yourself to finish the work the Father has given you to do and to live for His glory. Ask confidently that the Son may be glorified in you. This is praying in the name, in the very words, in the Spirit of Jesus, in union with Jesus Himself. Such prayer has power. If you glorify the Father with Jesus, the Father will glorify Jesus by doing what you ask in His name. Only when your own personal relationship is clear with God, and you are glorifying Him and seeking all for His glory like Christ will you have power to intercede for those around you.
Our Lord next prays for His disciples. He speaks of them as those whom the Father has given Him. Their chief mark is that they have received Christ’s Word. He says the Father now sends them into the world in His place, just as the Father had sent Him. He asks two things for them: that the Father keep them from the Evil One and that He sanctify them through His Word.
Just like the Lord, each believing intercessor has his own immediate circle of friends that he prays for first. Parents have their children, teachers their pupils, pastors their flocks, all workers their special charges, and all believers those whose care lies upon their hearts. Intercession should be personal, pointed, and definite; our first prayer must always be that they will receive the Word. But this prayer will not avail unless with our Lord we say, I have given them thy word (John 17:14). This gives us liberty and power in intercession for souls – not only to pray for them but also to speak to them.
And when they have received the Word, let us pray they are kept from the Evil One and sanctified through that Word. Instead of giving up on those who fall, let us pray for our circle, Father, . . . keep them in thy name and Sanctify them in thy truth (John 17:11, 17). Prayer in the name of Jesus avails much: Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).
Our Lord’s prayer follows, only for a still-wider circle. Neither do I pray for these alone, but also for those who shall believe through their word (John 17:20). His priestly heart enlarges itself to embrace all places and all time, and He prays that all who belong to Him may everywhere be one as God’s proof to the world of the divinity of His mission and that they may always be with Him in His glory. Until then, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:26).
The disciple of Jesus who has proved the power of prayer first in his own circle cannot confine himself within its limits; he prays for the universal church and its different branches. He prays especially for the unity of the Spirit and of love. He prays for the church being one in Christ as a witness to the world that Christ, who has worked such a wonder as to make love triumph over selfishness and separation, is indeed the Son of God sent from heaven. Every believer ought to pray much that the unity of the church may be made manifest, not in external organizations but in spirit and in truth.
So much for the matter of the prayer. Now consider its form. Jesus said, Father, I will (John 17:24). On the basis of His right as Son, the Father’s promise to Him, and His finished work, He might do so. The Father had said to Him, Ask of me, and I shall give thee (Psalm 2:8).
Jesus has given us a similar promise: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do (John 14:13). He asks me in His name to say what I will. Abiding in Him, in a living union with Him in which man is nothing and Christ is all, the believer has the liberty to take up that word of his High Priest and in answer to the question, What wilt thou? say, “Father, I will all that You have promised.” This is nothing but true faith; this is honoring God – to be assured that such confidence in saying what I will is indeed acceptable to Him.
At first sight, our heart shrinks from that expression. We feel neither the liberty nor the power to speak like that. But grace will be given most assuredly to each one who loses his will in his Lord’s. He that loses his will shall find it; he that gives up his will entirely shall find it again, renewed and strengthened with a divine strength. Father, I will – this is the keynote of the everlasting, ever-active, all-prevailing intercession of our Lord in heaven. It is only in union with Him that our prayer helps; in union with Him it benefits much. If we abide in Him, living, walking, and doing all things in His name, and if we bring each separate petition, tested and touched by His Word and Spirit, and cast it into the mighty stream of intercession that goes up from Him to be presented before the Father, then we shall have the full confidence that we receive the petitions we ask for. Father, I will, will be breathed into us by the Spirit Himself. We shall lose ourselves in Him and become nothing; we will find that in our impotence we have power and will prevail.
Disciples of Jesus, you are called to be like your Lord in His priestly intercession. When, oh when, will we awaken to the glory of our destiny to plead and prevail with God for perishing men? Oh, when will we shake off the sloth that clothes itself with the pretense of humility and yield ourselves wholly to God’s Spirit that He may fill our wills with light and with power – to know, and to take, and to possess all that our God is waiting to give to a will that lays hold of Him?
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Oh, my blessed High Priest, who am I that You should invite me to share with You in Your power of prevailing intercession? And why am I so slow of heart to understand and believe and exercise this wonderful privilege to which You have redeemed Your people? Oh Lord, give Your grace that this may be my unceasing life work – praying without ceasing to draw the blessing of heaven on all my surroundings on earth.
Blessed Lord, I come now to accept my calling. For this I would forsake all and follow You. Into Your hands I would yield my whole being; form, train, and inspire me to be one of Your prayer legion, wrestlers who watch and strive in prayer, God’s princes who have power and prevail. Take possession of my heart and fill it with the one desire for the glory of God at the ingathering, sanctification, and union of those whom the Father has given You. Take my mind and let this be my study and my wisdom – to know when prayer can bring a blessing. Take me wholly and fit me to stand before God and to bless in His name.
Blessed Lord, let this be through all the spiritual life: You all, I nothing. And let my experience be that he who has and seeks nothing for himself receives all, even to the wonderful grace of sharing with You in Your everlasting ministry of intercession. Amen.
Questions & Notes
- What did Jesus give to us in His parting address? ↑
- How do we pray in perfect unity with Christ? ↑
- What are the three divisions of Christ’s High Priestly prayer? ↑
- Why did Jesus first pray for Himself? ↑
- What kind of prayer has power? ↑
- What did the Lord pray for His disciples? ↑
- How did He pray for the “Church Universal”? ↑
- What is an expression of “true faith” that honors God? ↑
- What is the result of the prayer, “Father, I will!” ↑
- What principles from Christ’s High Priestly prayer will you apply to your life?
Click on the "With Christ In The School Of Prayer" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.