John 17:20-26 – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Lastly, Jesus prays for those who didn’t yet know Him. When Jesus prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…” He was praying for you. It is a bit staggering to consider that, with His own complex life to manage and death to endure that we were in His heart and on His mind.
Not only does Jesus model for us the importance of praying for lost people, but He also prays for us to talk to lost people about Him as they come to “believe in me,” Jesus says, “through their word.” Jesus alone saves people, but you and I are sent to speak to people about Him.
God not only oversees the ends of things (who is saved) but also the means (how they are saved). Jesus prays for evangelism and unity because unity provides the power for mission. When a group of people unifies around a mission, willing to pay the price to complete it and stick together, big things can happen.
For this reason, not only does Jesus pray for people to become Christians, but He also prays for Christians to speak to non-Christians. Likewise, every Christian should, out of love, have a list of people they know and pray will become Christians. By praying for them, we are asking God the Holy Spirit to prepare them to hear about Jesus and prepare us to speak with them about Jesus.
One of the easiest ways to begin warming people up to Jesus is simply telling them you care and asking them whether there is anyone or anything you can be praying about for them. Most of the time, even a non-Christian appreciates someone regularly praying for their need, and this opens the door of an ongoing conversation about how they are doing and how you can lovingly support them. Eventually, these relationships that start with praying for someone will transition to conversations with them about Jesus.
Unlike the rest of us, Jesus Christ came down. For eternity, He sat on a throne, surrounded and served by divine beings including angels, had worship songs sung to Him, lacked nothing, needed nothing, had all power, all wealth, and all authority ruling over all Creation. Then, He gave it all up to come down to be with us, to be like us, and to serve us.
Jesus’ riches-to-rags story seems a bit odd to those of us who are hoping that our lives will be a rags-to-riches story. Jesus’ journey from glory to humility and back into glory sounds to us as foolishness, which the Bible says it is to some who hear it. While on the earth, theologians like to say that Jesus’ glory was veiled so that we saw merely a humble, poor, powerless Galilean peasant.
- Who prayed for you to become a believer? Write about your thankfulness for this person.
- Which non-Christians can you start praying for?