The Real Lord’s Prayer

Title: The Real Lord's Prayer

Bible Book: John 17 : 1-26

Author: Mark Adams

Subject: Intercession, Jesus'




I don’t know if you know it or not but our state convention has a retreat center up on Old South Mountain—not too far from Middletown, Maryland. It’s called SKYCROFT—and, if I remember correctly the first time I went there was when Sue and I attended a marriage enrichment training event back in the mid ‘80's. During orientation I asked the retreat leader what there was to do in our free time. He mentioned antique shopping in Boonesboro...or getting ice cream at MAIN’S ICE CREAM PARLOR in Middletown—but then he asked if we’d ever seen the Washington Monument. I proudly said, that yes, we had seen it on a recent trip to D.C. We had even climbed to the top! He said, “No—I don’t mean that Washington Monument. I mean the REAL Washington Monument. It’s not far from here.”

Well, we decided to hike up there to see the REAL Washington Monument...and the retreat leader was right. That monument was indeed the REAL Washington that it was the FIRST one built to honor our first president. It sits atop Old South Mountain and was constructed by the residents of Boonsboro in 1827—sixty years before the more famous monolith went up on the mall in D.C. You can climb up inside of it and get spectacular views of the valley below. In fact, because of those views the REAL Washington Monument was used as a lookout site for both the confederate army and the union army in the civil war—of course not at the same time. But, in spite of it’s rich history, unfortunately these days it’s a monument that tends to be UNDERVALUED. It stands in the shadow of the higher, more famous tower down on the mall.


I bring this up because there is a PRAYER in the Bible that has a similar problem.

I’m referring to the prayer of Jesus recorded in John chapter 17. In my opinion it’s the REAL LORD’S PRAYER...but it tends to be overshadowed by a more famous prayer—the one in Matthew 6 that MOST people refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, when in reality it was a guideline for OUR prayers. I mean, Jesus would never ask for His trespasses to be forgiven because He never sinned. So, in my mind that prayer should more accurately be referred to as “The Disciple’s Prayer.” The REAL Lord’s prayer is here in John 17—for it was our Lord’s prayer—a prayer Jesus Himself prayed on the night of His arrest. Most believe He prayed it while in the temple courtyard looking up toward Heaven.

Now—as you’ll see in a moment—in the first few verses Jesus prays for Himself—but even those words are an intercession is for us...because in those verses Jesus asked God to glorify His Son by using the crucifixion that was to come for its glorious intended purpose. Specifically Jesus prayed that His death on the cross would satisfy our sin debt and make it possible for us to be forgiven and know God and have eternal life.

Now—think about that for a moment. One of the most encouraging experiences as a Christian is to be prayed for by another person—especially when they utter that prayer in our presence. Well, ratchet that feeling up a great deal because on the night of His arrest—just hours before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for YOU...and ME. In fact, the Bible teaches that He is still doing that even now. Hebrews 7:25 says, “Consequently [Jesus] is able for all time to save those who approach God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Romans 8:34 says, “It is Christ Jesus, Who died, yes, Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of God, Who intercedes for us.” Robert McCheyene once said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” With that in mind, I’d like to read our Scripture a little bit differently this morning. I’d like you to close your eyes and picture yourself sitting in the shadows of that temple courtyard on that night 2,000 years ago. Listen as I read—but imagine it’s not me speaking...imagine you are sitting there listening as Jesus prays—intercedes—for you.

1b - “Father, the time 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 may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.
4 - I have brought You glory on earth by completing 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.
6 - I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your Word.
7 - Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You.
8 - For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
9 - I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me, for they are Yours.
10 - All I have is Yours, and all You have is Mine. And glory has come to Me through them.
11 - I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name—the name You gave Me—so that they may be one as We are one.
12 - While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name You gave Me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 - I am coming to You now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them.
14 - I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
15 - My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.
16 - They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
17 - Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
18 - As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
19 - For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 - My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message,
21 - 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.
22 - I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one:
23 - I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
24 - Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.
25 - Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me.
26 - I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Okay—did you notice the main THEMES of this, the REAL Lord’s prayer? After asking God to glorify Himself through the cross, Jesus primarily spoke of two main things. He prayed that we would NOT be SEPARATED—and that we WOULD be UNIFIED.

Open your Bibles to John 17 and look at the prayer as I explain why I put it this way.

(1) First, Jesus asked that we would not be SEPARATED...that is separated from the people in this fallen world.

Look at verse 15. Jesus said, “My prayer is NOT that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one.” In this part of His prayer we see Jesus alluding to the fact that, as we said last week, this fallen world is a dangerous place for Christians—we are living in enemy territory. No doubt because of that, Jesus referred to our need for God’s protection not once, not twice—but THREE times. However, He also pointedly asked that God would KEEP us in the world...protect us yes—but leave us where we are.

This week in my study I came across a great story recorded by Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian. Jospehus says that in his great campaign for world domination, Alexander the Great moved from the Hellespont to Egypt, laying siege to walled cities and conquering land in between. His path to Egypt took him down the narrow land bridge between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Desert, a land ruled by Jerusalem. Israel was a choice piece of land for anyone wanting to control trade with Egypt. And, no one knew this better than the citizens of Jerusalem, who trembled to think of chariots racing south to plunder their beloved Zion. The high priest at the time was a man named Jaddua and he fell to his knees before God, asking for guidance. How would he defend the defenseless people of Israel? You see, the walls of Jerusalem were crumbling with age—besides, no one dared stand against the seasoned warriors of Greece.

In answer to his prayer, the Lord led Jaddua to decorate the city and open the gates. God also told him to have each person greeting Alexander’s army dressed in white, while the priest wore the vestments of their order. Well, as Alexander’s army moved closer to Jerusalem, Jaddua led the procession of priests and greeters north to meet him. The high priest wore purple and scarlet garments as well as a headpiece, which bore a golden plate engraved with the name of God. He stood his ground as the dust from Alexander’s army billowed up and darkened the sky. When the Greeks came within sight of the Jewish procession, Alexander stopped his march, dismounted, stood before the high priest, and then worshiped the name of God—something he had never done before. According to Josephus, the conqueror had seen the vision of white-clad people, the priests, and the name of God engraved in gold. Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Alexander offered sacrifice to God, per Jaddua’s instructions, and he treated the Jews with great kindness. Then Jaddua opened an ancient scroll to the prophecy of Daniel, specifically chapters 7 and 8. He showed Alexander the then two-hundred year old prophecy predicting Greek dominion over the Western world. When Alexander read this he was thrilled. Although he was known as a man of dark moods, he suddenly rejoiced, promising to put a perimeter of protection around Zion and to allow the Jews to retain their law.

Alexander had seen himself in Scripture and was deeply affected by the experience.

Well, in essence the same thing is happening to us today. We see ourselves prayed for by Jesus here in a 2000 year old document...a prayer uttered 20 centuries ago, for our protection. This should encourage us as we seek to be SALT and LIGHT in “enemy territory.” We can be bold because of Jesus’ prayer. We know that because of His intercession for us on that night God has a “perimeter” around us—guarding us from temptation and allowing in, only those difficulties that will be for our good and His glory. Knowing this—knowing that Jesus prayed for our protection should encourage us NOT to withdraw from the world—not to separate ourselves from people who need to hear the Gospel. And, let’s face it. It is important that we hear this part of the prayer because SEPARATION has always been a temptation for Christ-followers—you and me included. This is where the idea of monasteries and nunneries came from. The thought behind those cloistered institutions was that to protect ourselves from the influence of this fallen world we’d literally build a wall. Well, in Jesus’ prayer He is reminding us we don’t need a wall. We don’t need to protect ourselves because God will protect us. This should encourage and embolden us. You see, the fact is, if we are not careful, even Baptists like you and me can easily become MONASTIC. I say this because we often arrange our lives so that we are around nonbelievers as little as possible. We attend Bible studies that are 100% Christian, Sunday schools that are 100% Christian. We read only or at least primarily Christian books, send our kids to Christian schools or home school them, listen only or mostly to Christian radio.

Now—don’t get me wrong. None of these things are bad in and of themselves. It’s good for Christians to be together. We need to do that. And we should read Christian books and listen to Christian music but it is easy to do these things so much that we isolate ourselves in sort of a Christian subculture.

In her excellent book, Out of the Salt Shaker, Rebecca Pippert writes about the temptation to do this on the college campus. She says:

We must not become, as John Stott puts it, ‘a rabbit-hole Christian’ — the kind that pops his head out of a hole, leaves his Christian roommate in the morning and scurries to class, only to frantically search for a Christian to sit by (an odd way to approach a mission field). Thus he proceeds from class to class. When dinner comes, he sits with the Christians in his dorm at one huge table and thinks ‘What a witness!’ From there he goes to his all-Christian Bible study and he might even catch a prayer meeting where the Christians pray for the non-believers on his floor. (But what luck that he was able to live on the only floor with seventeen Christians!) Then at night he scurries back to his Christian roommate. Safe! He made it through the day and his only contact with the world were those mad, brave dashes to and from Christian activities. What an insidious reversal of the biblical command to be salt and light!

Well no matter what our age or stage in life—I mean on “campus” and off “campus” we are all susceptible to this. As someone once put it, “It is possible to go womb to tomb in a hermetically sealed container decorated with fish stickers.” Let me put it this way: is possible to abandon our culture to the devil.

By the way, I have to point out that even though Moses, Elijah, and Jonah all asked to be taken out of the world, not one of their requests was granted. I think we each need to ask ourselves honestly if we have functionally removed ourselves from the world, remembering that Christ prayed that we would not.

What about you? Is God leading you to answer His Son’s prayer in some way? I mean, how many non-Christian friends do you have? How are you IN CONTACT with the world around you—that little part of it that is your own private MISSION FIELD? Remember, Jesus prayed that we would NOT pull away from the WORLD...that we would not be SEPARATED...

(2) ...but He also prayed that we would be UNIFIED.

Not once—not twice—not three times—but FOUR times Jesus asked His Father to keep His followers then and now UNIFIED...ONE. Why? Why would Jesus make this a priority in His final prayer before the Cross? The answer to this question is in verses 22-23 where Jesus prays, “...may [they] be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” You see, our UNITY, our LOVE for one another, creates belief in the hearts of non-believers. ONENESS is such a rare thing in this fallen world that it draws people like bugs to light. Lucado writes, “How will the world believe that Jesus was sent by God? Not if we agree with each other. Not if we solve every controversy. Not if we are unanimous on each vote. Not if we never make a doctrinal error. But if we love one another.”

Now—the key to experiencing and displaying this caliber of UNITY and LOVE is our relationship with God through Jesus. I mean, the closer we each get to Jesus—the closer we get to each other. The deeper our love relationship with God—the deeper our love relationship with other Christians. Tozer put it this way, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.” I love Tozer’s illustration here because he’s right. The more “in tune” we are with God, the more “in tune” we will be with each other. Our unity—our Godly relationships—do draw people to God—but the opposite is true as well!Paul Billheimer may very well be right when he says, “The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the Church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined.” Thomas Manton put it like this: “Divisions in the church breed atheism in the world.” Think about that for a minute—and do a quick soul search.

Could it be that an argument in your past or present—a disagreement with a fellow Christian—could it be that your unloving behavior toward another Christ-follower has ever pushed someone from Jesus?

Well, if UNITY was a priority in Jesus’ prayer—shouldn’t it be one in ours? Sure it should! As Paul said, we “must make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) We have to understand just how important Christian unity is! We need to get on the same sheet of music here with Jesus and realize that our unity has eternal implications for the people around us. This means we need to look at quarreling and gossiping and slander—anything that damages our unity as believers—we must look at it as a SCANDALOUS thing. The truth is we are upset by MORAL failures on the part of believers but most of us don't care enough about FELLOWSHIP failures. We are NOT scandalized by a lack of love—BUT JESUS IS! Love was and is His supreme value and if He is truly LORD, it must be our supreme value as well. With that in mind I would like us to look at Matthew 18:15-17 because in these verses Jesus has given us several basic principles when it comes to preserving our unity. These are taken from John Ortberg’s book,Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them.

(A) The first principle is this. We must ACKNOWLEDGE the fact that conflict happens.

That’s part of what Jesus was getting at when He said, “If your BROTHER sins against you go and show him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15)You see, in a fallen world—even among Christian brothers and sisters—people are going to sin against each other. Conflict is going to occur. In fact, and this may sound heretical, but I think we should rephrase the first part of that verse. I mean instead of saying, “IF your brother or sister sins against you” it should say,” WHEN your brother sins,” because in any relationship—even between Christians—sinful conflict is inevitable. Part of living in a fallen world involves being in conflict. People disagree. People fight. Sometimes they fight a lot; sometimes a little; sometimes constructively; sometimes destructively; sometimes fairly; sometimes unfairly. Sometimes fights end well. Other times they end poorly. But conflict is going to happen on this side of eternity. This is important for us to understand because many of us pretend that conflict doesn’t exist. Some Christians even act as if a lack of conflict is a sign of spiritual maturity. But this is not true. Even mature Christians—like Paul and Barnabas—have disagreements. In fact, a lack of conflict COULD BE DUE to apathy—you know, Christians just not caring enough about absolute truth to defend it. Or—it can be due to the fact that we care more about peace than truth so we don’t love a brother or sister who has fallen into sin enough to confront them...and help them repent and return to living in the center of God's will.

In any case, we shouldn’t be surprised when conflict rears its ugly head in the church. There will be times when Godly people disagree. And I for one think that we grow closer as church members and friends when we lovingly work to resolve our issues. Handled correctly—conflict can actually DEEPEN our friendships.

(B) The second principle Jesus gives us is that everyone must OWN Responsibility when it comes to resolving the issue.

If community is to be restored EVERYONE involved must take responsibility for resolving the situation—both the person who has done the wrong and the person who has been wronged. In Matthew 18 Jesus says that if a brother or sister sins against us, we should take the responsibility to go to them and explain how they have hurt us. And this is good guidance because often people hurt us without even knowing it—which means if we don’t go to them, things will never be put right. But please note—Jesus ALSO taught that the person who does the wrong should take responsibility. In Matthew 5:23-24 our Lord said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you [for something you have done to him], leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

So Jesus taught that both the sinner and the sin-ee...both the wrong-do-er and the wrong-do-ee....each side must take responsibility. He taught this because in a church community—ONENESS—is that important—and we show that we believe it is important in this way by taking the responsibility to deal with relational break-downs. This leads to the third principle we find in Matthew 18...

(C) APPROACH, don’t avoid the person you are in conflict with.

Jesus says, “GO” to this person. Take action. Don’t let resentment fester. Now, we don't usually do this do we? We tend to AVOID the people we are in conflict with. And, one reason we do is the fact that it’s easier to pout. Plus, if we go, things might get ugly and we don’t like to deal with ugly—and in resolving conflict we may have to deal with “ugly.” I mean confrontation may not go well but we shouldn’t let that stop us from dealing with it. After all, avoidance kills community. Avoidance causes resentment to fester.

Now, I DO think it is best to take some time to cool our own heels and prepare—you know, to prayerfully gather our thoughts before we approach the person. As Proverbs 14:17 says, “People with hot temper do foolish things; wiser people remain calm.” So, we DO need to calm down first because ANGER causes us to behave foolishly. It causes what therapists refer to as “cognitive incapacitation.” In other words, being MAD prevents us from thinking straight. In fact anger produces what you might call, “the Jim Cary effect.” That is to say, “as you get mad and madder, you get dumb and dumber.” Neil Warren gives us good advice when he says, “When your inner gauge reads ‘red-hot anger,’ delay response.” But once we HAVE cooled down GO—hurry—deal with the problem. Remember? Paul said, “Be angry but do not sin—do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) In other words, cool down but don’t wait too long. Resolve the issue. The more you wait, the worse it will get. The more you wait, the harder it will be to fix things!

(D) The fourth principle Jesus gives can be summarized in three words: No THIRD PARTIES.

In other words we are to Go—and GO DIRECTLY to ONLY the person involved—and clearly explain to them the problem. Now, that’s the last person most of us want to go to. Instead of going to the person with whom we have a problem we prefer going to someone else—someone we can get on our side. It’s kind of like back in 1990 when the U.S. built a coalition of nations against Saddam after he invaded Kuwait. We go to other people and gather allies before we attack. I must confess that I have done this from time to time.

Why do we do this? BECAUSE WE WANT TO WIN! That’s the way we are when we are wronged—we want to win so we go to everyone BUT the person who has wronged us. We get lots of people on our side and doing this is disobeying Jesus’ command. We are to go to the person. Now—I can understand why going to someone who doesn’t know the person you are in conflict...a GODLY person who you can rely on to be honest with you...and give you a more Christlike perspective—even if it means helping you to see your error...I can see how this might help. But the principle that Jesus is giving us here is to LIMIT THE DAMAGE of the conflict and building a coalition of allies is NOT the way to do this. In Philippians 4:2 Paul said, “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.” These two women were apparently disagreeing about something. We don’t know what the issue was. Perhaps it had to do with who had the goofier name. But I think it’s interesting to note what Paul DOESN’T advise. He doesn't say, “Eudoia, talk to some other people about how unfair Syntyche is being to you. Thoroughly discuss her character flaws and neuroses so that others can pray for her more intelligently.” He doesn't say,“Hey Syntyche, let three or four of your closest friends know how Euodia has mistreated you so they can reinforce your self-righteous sense of martyrdom.” No—he says, “I plead with you...agree WITH EACH OTHER.”

You see, going ONLY to the person limits the damage to just the two of you. It also reduces potential misunderstandings. It preserves the UNITY of the church. In fact Jesus says that only after dealing with this one on one has not worked are we to bring in a third party.

(E) The last principle Jesus gives us is this. We are to aim at RECONCILIATION.

Remember what He said? “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” (Vs 17) You see, the goal in conflict resolving situations like this is not to win or score points—it’s reconciliation. Your aim should not be to run someone off but rather to restore the relationship. When we disagree we should let our love for each other and our understanding of how precious unity is compel us to care enough to work through the issue. This where many of us fall short. We don’t aim at reconciliation. We don’t work for peace. We just go to war. Well, Jesus says, no—our GOAL in situations like this must always be to “win our brother.”

You know, I am fairly sure that most of us here this morning have been or even right now are right now involved in some form of personal conflict. And if that applies to you—then I encourage you to turn that mental mike on right now and talk to God about the situation. Commit to go to the person or persons...that spouse or parent or child or employee or boss or coach or deacon or PASTOR—and do what it takes to make peace. Resolve the conflict. Commit to be a part of ANSWERING Jesus’ prayer for you that night. Work to restore and deepen our UNITY here at Redland.

And—what about that other part of Jesus’ prayer? Is God leading you to answer it as well? Is he convicting you of your need to stop SEPARATING yourself from lost people?



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