This week I read an article called 'The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus' that is found in John 17:1-5. The author, Bob Deffinbaugh , Th.M., took a somewhat exegetical look at this passage with the purpose of identifying eight observations about this prayer that were significant to him. The article was interesting due to some new concepts that the author presented. I would like to respond to a few points that he made.
One of the first points that Deffinbaugh makes is that prayer should be conversation. He showed how Jesus' prayer to the Father was a normal part of His conversation and not a separate, disconnected thought. Many prayers that I have heard or given in the past have been extremely formal because of the desire to show reverence to God. The odd thing about it is that I do not speak to my earthly father in the same way that I speak to my Heavenly Father. This is a difficult transition to make but has proved to be beneficial. Bringing together this disconnect will be important in helping people develop a closer relationship and intimacy to God.
Deffinbaugh recognized " prayer is closely related to teaching and preaching." We see pictures of Jesus throughout the gospels active in teaching and preaching, but always finding time for prayer. He kept His focus on the most important thing in the world and this is being in contact with His Father. How many endeavors do churches approach without first communicating with God? There can be a tendency at times to come up with plans and then expect God to bless the plans. Jesus left the model of seeking the wisdom of the Father first before attempting to minister. This allows for God power to be shown and His will to be completed. If the link between prayer and ministry is broken then the success of that ministry is left up to chance.
He also leaves a powerful reminder "there is no one style of prayer, and not even one consistent posture for prayer. What is consistent is our Lord's submission to the will of His Father, and His constant desire to bring glory to the Father." How easy that is to forget. The job of the Christian is to communicate with God in prayer, follow what he has heard, and do everything to God's glory. If this process is followed we will never be in the dark about what it is that God wants us to do. We will know if we listen.
Jesus truly is our High Priest. He has set an example through this and other prayers of what initmacy with God looks like. He wants us to know the Father like He knows Him. He wants us to trust Him even if it means death. He wants us to depend on Him even though our common sense tells us otherwise. He wants us to share in ministry, but only after communicating with the Father. He wants us to experience prayer as a conversation with a loving God who is listening and active. This practice will produce a legion of believers who will be equiqqed to not only convert others to Christ, but also make other disciples as the Great Commission calls for.