Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is unusual – for it’s length and for its “flavor.”
It is relatively long. Actually, it’s short by the standards of some preachers, but it’s long by New Testament standards, and there aren’t many prayers in the whole Bible that are longer.
To some – certainly often in the past to me – it feels rambly and incoherent.
But now on more careful familiarity it resonates for me with alertness and order. In fact it is almost stunning in its deliberate priorities, its insightfulness into the real world and its orderly approach to the great issues.
In this chapter we become eavesdroppers on a private conversation at a moment of great emotional weight and long-term significance for Jesus.
It’s between Jesus and the Father, but is a monologue (as prayer usually is). It’s very personal, but done aloud in the presence of a number of his friends (as prayer sometimes is).
I’m not here to write a sentence-by-sentence commentary on this prayer – that would take weeks of meditation and work – but just to commend it to our attention. I have read it several times over the past week or so, and highly recommend that.
Go to BibleGateway.com and copy it off. Remove the verse numbers and footnotes. Then just read it once or twice a day for two or three days – no annotations permitted. On the third or fourth day start making some notes on your printout.
Treat it with respect. Make the assumption that you are reading the output of a real person, a person of extraordinary insight, making a real prayer which has come down to us in close to its original form. That is an assumption that I believe will in this case pay valuable dividends.
What do you find? I’d like to know.