Praying for glory
After completing His last teachings on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus informed His disciples:
John 16:33-17:1 I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said:
Father, the hour has come.
What Jesus prayed next is commonly referred to as His ‘High Priestly Prayer’. Since Jesus prayed this in front of His disciples, they would have heard Jesus’ exact desires and petitions to the Father.
Jesus knew what was going to happen that night in the garden. He knew that His entire life, and especially the last three years, had led up to this night. The hour of sacrifice had finally come.
In this prayer, Jesus prayed for Himself, the disciples, and all future believers. He also made some significant statements and requests during this prayer. The first part of His prayer is for Himself, but His words are not selfish…rather, they are focused on His relationship with the Father:
John 17: 1-3 Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You,
for You gave Him authority over all flesh;
so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him.
This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God,
And the One You have sent – Jesus Christ.
Eternal life – which is both forever-lasting and of excellent quality – is only found in knowing God the Father, through Jesus Christ. We were created to be in eternal relationship with God. Jesus affirmed this to the disciples earlier in the night, when He said:
John 13:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
While Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him, Jesus’ aim was to use any honor the Father gave Him as an opportunity to reflect it back. Glorifying the Father – enriching His reputation and advancing His agenda – was Jesus’ purpose in His life and ministry, and it continued to be his focus as He would head to the cross.
John 17:4-5 I have glorified You on the earth
by completing the work You gave Me to do.
Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence
With the glory I had with You before the world existed.
Jesus begins His ‘High Priestly Prayer’ in the same manner He had previously instructed the disciples to pray:
Matthew 6:9 Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy.
Above all else, Jesus was concerned with the Father’s reputation and agenda. This aim dominated His life and His prayers. As such, Jesus’ prayer practice matched His prayer teachings, and His example instructs us to focus on God’s glory in the same ways.