Before laying down His life, Jesus prayed to God the Father on our behalf. In other words, He was praying for God’s children. Found in the 17th chapter of the book of John, what’s known as “The High Priestly Prayer,” Christ presented Himself and us for God’s glory. In a big picture kind of way, this prayer encapsulates our missional priorities as followers of Christ. As a Christian and a father, this is the same prayer I have for myself and my children.
As you read John 17:1-26, it is apparent through Jesus’ prayer what He considers most important for us. If these things matter most to Christ, they need to matter most to us. From a dad’s perspective, these are the spiritual anchors I want my children to see in my own life as I pray the same for them.
Jesus prayed for:
- God’s glory (John 17:1-5)
- Keeping and Sharing God’s Word (John 17:6-8)
- Our lives to bring Him glory (John 17:10 see also John 15:8)
- Our oneness with God and each other (John 17:10-11)
- Our spiritual protection (John 17:12)
- Our joy in Him (John 17:13)
- Us to be “in” the world but not “of” it (John 17:14-16)
- Our sanctification through God’s Word (John 17:17)
- Our lives to point others to Jesus and glorify God (John 17:20-25)
- Our oneness with Jesus and His love (John 17:26)
As a follower of Christ and as a parent, are these priorities reflected in our lives? For me, does my life help my wife and kids pursue these “Jesus priorities?” When we pray for our kids, are we praying for these things?
Praying “The Prayer of Jesus” Priorities for our kids:
- That they glorify God in all they do.
- That they holdfast to God’s Word and share His Word with others.
- That Jesus is glorified by their good works.
- That their hearts are protected by God.
- That their joy in life is to know Jesus.
- That they do not become entangled with the world but engage it for Christ.
- That they die to self and become more like Jesus every day.
- That they point others to Jesus in word and in action.
- That they are filled with the love of Jesus.
This is not to say we can’t pray for other things for our children, that they do well in their studies, that they find a good job or that they find a God-honoring spouse. These are good things. However, they are not the most important things. What is apparent within Jesus’ prayer is that God cares most about His glory, our oneness within Him, our sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) and sharing His Word and love that others may come to know Him and His glory. In Christ, this is our missional focus and needs to be the foundation of our prayers for our children.
Yet, to pray this prayer as a parent is to ask God to position our kids much differently from most of the youth in this world. We are asking God, much like Jesus did for us, to set them apart for God’s glory, to anchor them to His Word and to His love and to use them in a way that points others to Jesus. To pray this prayer could well put our kids on a very difficult mission field in life. And yet, by praying this prayer, we are positioning our children in the best place possible – in God’s hands.
We know through Scripture that sin impacts our relationship with God and hinders our prayers. This is why any prayer for my kids needs to begin with making sure my own life and heart are right before God. The simple truth of being a God-honoring father starts with living a God-honoring life. God affords me to be a path-maker for my kids. In this way, my life can be used by God to help direct my kids toward Him. I can say to my children, “Follow me as I follow Jesus.”
Praying “The Prayer of Jesus” for my kids:
I lift my children to You knowing they are Yours. Grow them in a way that roots their heart, soul and mind to You through Jesus. May they be all about glorifying You with the life You’ve given them. Let them holdfast to Your Word as they seek to live it and share it. Give them a servant’s heart like Christ that they may seek to glorify Jesus in and through their works. May their fullest joy be knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior and sharing in the oneness with His body. Please keep them set apart for You – in the world but not of the world that they may be Your salt and light. May Your Word through the work of the Holy Spirit make them more like Jesus Christ. Let them stay focused on the mission to live and share Your love that You might use them to draw others to You. All for Your glory. Amen.