What do you pray about? What sort of things do you bring to God?
Our prayers, or more specifically the content of our prayers so often reflect our priorities and values. In John 17, we get insight into the desire of Jesus for himself, his current disciples and also for us, his future disciples.
For us he prays, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 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.” (John 17: 20-24)
His prayer is that we would be united, and that we would join Him in mission. These two aspects of Jesus’ prayer are not separate ideas which have no relationship with one another, but are intimately connected.
Alan Hirsch in his book “The Forgotten Ways” speaks of Church as Communitas, as opposed to Community. It’s an important distinction.
Communitas is essentially the latin word for community, but it is community forged in the context of a challenge, ordeal, task or mission. We see it in sporting teams all the time. When they focus on their mission they learn to rely on one another and care for one another. Community is formed as they pursue a goal, purpose or task together.
That is what Jesus is praying for in John 17 . His desire is that the people of God might be one, as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. That the church be a community which is united around a common mission or purpose. A community which faces challenges together, and works together to overcome.
As you pray this week, consider this prayer of Jesus. Consider the priorities which occupy His mind as He prays for us. Such a prayer should cause us to stop and think. To think about the lives we live, and the things we pray about.