The perfect prayer

John 17:1 “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”

Jesus did what he did in a perfect way. This included the way in which he prayed. When he asked the Father to bless Him in some way, He always had, first and foremost, the Father’s glory in mind.  When Jesus walked on earth, He longed to again be with His Father in Heaven.  That’s where He belonged.  It was his rightful, holy, blessed dwelling place.  It’s where He had been from all eternity.  It was a place of honor, fellowship, and love where there was no pain, no discouragement, no strife, no disease, no death, no heartache and no sin.   It’s a place where Jesus ruled as the King of kings.  When Jesus prayed the prayer of John 17, He was praying from his short-term dwelling place on earth – a place that was anything but like the place He had come from.  And He longed to return.  He longed for the glory that awaited Him there.  No wonder!  

And it’s no wonder that we pray for things to be other than they are as well, for we live on this same fallen planet.  We pray for healing when we or others are sick.  We pray for help when we are in need of it. We pray for understanding when we are confused. We pray for hope when we find ourselves in hopeless situations. Seldom do we pray that things will stay just like they are now, for we know that things could always be better in some way.  Yet, notice how Jesus prayed – “that the Son may glorify you.”  In other words, He was praying that God would answer His prayer in a way that would glorify God Himself.   When He prayed this, He knew full well that God could have sent 12 legions of angels to rescue Him from what He was about to face. That’s exactly what he told Peter in Matthew 26:53 as the crowd came to arrest Him and lead Him to death.

Jesus knew that He could have been glorified without the cross, for He was equal with God, and was worthy, at that very moment, of all the glory of the Father.  But if that was how His prayer had been answered, it would not have been answered in a way that brought the most glory to the Father.  The love, grace, and overwhelming forgiveness of God would not have been demonstrated for all the world to see in quite the same way without the cross.  And it was that glory that Jesus wanted most.  It’s the same attitude shown by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they faced Nebuchadnezzar and his threat of being burned in a furnace if they wouldn’t bow down to him.  Their response to the king was as follows in Daniel 3:16-18: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  They said this because they knew that however God would respond to their plight, they wanted more than anything for the God they loved to be glorified. 

Is that how we think and is that how we pray?  When we pray for things to be other than they are, are we willing for God to answer that prayer in a way that will most glorify Him, no matter what that means to us?  Are we willing to suffer loss along the way to God’s perfect answer to our prayers?  When we pray for healing, are we willing to wait for God’s perfect timing for that healing, even if that ultimate healing must wait until heaven?  Do we want God’s glory more than anything, because we know that in the end, that’s what matters more than anything?  Do we want to really be like Jesus, including the way in which He prayed?

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