Praying for protection
On many occasions, I have prayed that God would protect my family. This request is usually made when they are leaving the house to go anywhere, whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store or somewhere further out, like the next town over. The distance doesn’t really matter; it’s the fact that I’m not physically with them (and therefore I can’t protect them) that bothers me enough that I ask God to watch over them.
But that’s about as far as any of our prayers for protection typically go, isn’t it? When we ask God to protect someone, we’re typically looking for “traveling mercies”, or perhaps we’re asking God to keep a child from doing something irrevocably stupid. Honestly though, the motive of these requests has a lot more to do with avoiding hardships…like car accidents and negative life-altering choices. When we get right down to it, in our requests for protection we’re looking out more for our own comfort than for God’s glory and reputation.
During His ‘High Priestly Prayer’, the disciples continued to listen to Jesus pray to the Father about them. As you read this section of Jesus’ prayer, look for how He requested that the Father protect them.
John 17:11-15 I am no longer in the world,
but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.
Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me,
so that they may be one as We are one.
While I was with them, I was protecting them by Your name that You have given Me.
I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction,
so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.
Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world
so that they may have My joy completed in them. I have given them Your word.
The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world.
I am not praying that You take them out of the world
but that You protect them from the evil one.
So what kind of protection is Jesus asking the Father for here?
Since we know the rest of the disciples’ stories from here on out, we know that they did not have a comfortable life. They faced even more trials and persecutions after the cross than they did before the cross. So Jesus isn’t praying for their comfort…then what kind of “protection” is Jesus seeking from the Father?
Jesus was asking for the Father’s protection so that they may be one as We are one and also to be protected from the evil one.
It was Jesus’ relationship with the Father that kept Him on mission. His “oneness” with the Father was why He was able to complete the work the Father gave Him, even when other people or Satan himself tried to derail His purpose.
For the previous three years, the disciples had Jesus as the example of remaining connected to the Father. But now that example, that protection by proximity, was going to be removed. Jesus knew that for the disciples to be effective in spreading the gospel message, they would need to be unified – in purpose and relationship, both with the Father and with each other. Their “oneness” with the Father was a greater need than their own comfort, and their unity with each other would need the Father’s protection.
The same rings true for us modern-day believers. For us to complete the mission that God has given us, our “oneness” with the Father needs to be a greater priority than our comforts or preferences. So let’s begin to pray like Jesus did and ask the Father to protect those closest to us – so that they may be one with the Father, just like Jesus was.