“I have finished the work you have given me to do…” (John 17:11).
God has a clear plan that is revealed all through the Scripture. He knows exactly how He wants to reach the nations of the world. As God’s children, when we pray for the world we must do so according to God’s plan. To many people, the heart of the Bible is John 3:16: “God so loved the
world (my emphasis) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God does love the world!
The cost to God to love the world was immeasurable—the life, death, resurrection and reigning of His Son. God planned that we, His children, are to reign with Him as He redeems our world (Gal 2:4-6). God’s focus is on His people, in redeeming a lost world…
John 17 is the significant prayer of Jesus to the Father, at the close of His three-and-a-half-year ministry doing the Father’s will for the world. The focus of Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s plan was to pray “for these” disciples the Father had given Him (Jn. 17:9). Jesus also prayed: “Father . . . I have finished the work You have given Me to do” (17:11). What had God asked Jesus to do? The Father gave Jesus twelve men (all businessmen). He was to teach them that the Father had sent Him into the world and to help them understand why His Father had sent Him. Jesus faithfully told them all the Father told Him to tell them, and they believed. They understood that the Father sent Him because the Father loved the world (17:6-8). The rest of Jesus’ prayer focuses on what He had done with the twelve men God had given to Him, and what He asks the Father to do for them. Herein lies the key to our praying for the world.
It appears that the Father’s heart to redeem the world would rest on these twelve men and all those who would believe through their preaching. They were to be sanctified, set apart for God, and remain absolutely faithful to their assignment. Therefore, the heart of Jesus’ prayer was not for the world, but for His disciples. This prayer of Jesus clearly helps us know how we are to pray—not for the world—but for God’s people.
Grace-filled God, You have set Your people apart to faithfully fulfill Your commission to go into all the world. I am amazed that my life is to be used to redeem those who are walking outside of the fullness of Your kingdom! Prepare me to be a messenger of Your gospel message, not only through my words, but through the way I live out my life in Christ-like ways. Give me a heart of compassion towards those who struggle, who lack, who suffer, and who so desperately need a touch from You through me.
–Adapted from Chapter 61 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (The Bible and Global Prayer) by Henry Blackaby. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.
Praise your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Give thanks for the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). Confess how often you’d rather make your own plans than think about what God might be telling you through church leaders. Commit to listening for God through others’ words. Ask God to show you whether a specific leader has a word for you.
Claim Jesus’ power to do your part in gathering in those who are like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:35-38).
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