"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, Just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
I am always humbled as I traverse the pathway to the doors of my church. There, standing faithfully each Sunday, are the "greeters". Here I am always welcomed with a delightful smile that sets my heart spinning in prayer. I think of these individuals who give up time each Sunday just to touch my life with a warm gesture. I am then compelled to thinking of others here who give of their time in the community for the sake of the church.
I then say a silent prayer for all of them- church leaders and other lay persons of the church. But, it often seems rambunctious, unwoven with little direction. Am I praying as Christ taught me for these members? I came upon Jesus' chapter-long prayer in John 17. In these 26 verses I get a vision of how I can pray for churches and other ministries.
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. - John 17
Notice the prayer has three sections. First, Christ prayed for himself so that he can glorify the Father. Next, he prayed for disciples naming their protection and unity. Last he prayed for future believers, that they would be unified and would have their heavenly Father's love for one and other. It is surprising that Christ's prayer begins with a request for himself. I've never offered this type of prayer as my intention. But we are the church together Christ has often noted. After all, I am part of his ministry and need direction for my own personal prayers. From that day forward, I began to include myself first.
He then prays for his disciples pleading to his "Holy Father," knowing he was about to leave his friends making his prayer desperate. He prayed, "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name so that they may be as one as we are one. I say these things so that they may have the full measure of my joy with them. Protect them from the evil one. Sanctify them by truth; your word is truth."
Here I am reminded to pray for all those members of the church so that they may have God's coat of amour to protect them from being led astray either by their own weaknesses or by the Enemy's diversions. I also add a prayer of unity, joy, and sanctification into holiness.
The third part of the prayer is for future believers. Here, I pray for the church's future that other members will stand in places when deemed vacant. I pray that the love, holiness, and joy I receive each Sunday will expand and be complete each week.