Does Jesus Pray for the World?

The short answer is yes and no. Let me ask you this; is Jesus in any hurry to return? What did Jesus pray?

Okay, let’s reboot. Dr. McGee asked the question — what is the Lord’s prayer? As McGee tells the story, two liberal Seminary professors were debating the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-4). One said to the other, “You don’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.”

“Sure, I do,” replied the man. “It goes like this: When I lay me down to sleep …”

The first professor replied, “Well, I’ll be. I didn’t think you knew it.”

People are taught the Lord’s Prayer in first grade Sunday School. You know, forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us

And my Bible even has a headline over the passage that reads, The Lord’s Prayer. Folks, Jesus did not pray this prayer. Jesus had no sins to be forgiven.

Give us this day our daily bread … what did Jesus tell his disciples when they brought him food at the Samarian well?

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, I have food to eat that you do not know about. So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” (John 4:31-33)

Lead us not into temptation … yet Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

So, no, Jesus did not pray this prayer.

Luke tells us that one day Jesus was praying in a certain place, and his disciples came to him seeking to learn how to pray like John’s. Jesus would go into the wilderness, or atop the Mount of Olives where he would pray aloud to the Father in heaven as on the day of Transfiguration.

Rabbis taught their disciples short prayers that could be recited from memory, and it is evident from the text that John instructed his followers how to offer supplication unto YHWH.

In this context, then, Jesus is asked to teach them how to pray. It really should be called the Disciples’ Prayer.

In our last post I mentioned that John made no reference to the Lord’s Prayer, but he does give record of what my Bible calls The High Priestly Prayer.

Jesus Christ is our High Priest. What did he pray about? We find the authentic Lord’s Prayer in John 17.

First, how do you pray at church? At home? In your quiet time? Do you close your eyes and bow your head? The pastor always begins the church service, “With eyes closed and heads bowed …” Why do we do that? Did Jesus meekly approach the throne of grace? How did Christ pray?

John tells us:

and lifting up his eyes to heaven … (John 17:1). Wait, Jesus didn’t close his eyes and bow his head? But, you say, the Son has a different relationship with the Father than do we.

So, how did ancient Jews pray to God?

Psalms 120136 are revered in Judaism as the Great Hallel, or Songs of Ascent. They were sung by Jews who made their annual pilgrimages up to Jerusalem.

Psalm 121 begins, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2).

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! (Psalm 123:1)

And King David cried out,

My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net (Psalm 25:15).

But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! (Psalm 141:8)

The Berean Literal Bible translates this passage from Hebrews,

Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

A typical Sunday church prayer goes like this:

Lord (long pause), we just want to thank you, Lord, for, Lord, (short pause) bringing us together, Lord, and we pray that you, God, (short pause) would bless us, Lord, as we worship you, God, this morning.

And it continues for another five minutes with even longer pauses and Lord every other word.

What did Jesus say about vain repetition? The Aramaic Bible translates:

And whenever you are praying, you shall not be verbose like the heathen, for they think that they are heard by speaking much (Matthew 6:7).

So, what did Jesus pray?

Our Lord began his prayer seeking the glory of the Father. Then he prayed for his disciples, and concluded with a prayer for all believers.

Returning to my original questions, does Jesus pray for the world, and is he in a hurry to return?

I pray for them (disciples). I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours (John 17:9).

What, Jesus is not praying for the world? In this context, no, he does not pray for the world. But this was before the cross where he did ask the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

For 2000 years the church has anticipated the imminent return of Christ. It may be another 2000 years as it appears that he is no hurry to return and rapture his body.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15).

There is an unfinished work left to done. Imagine, a world with no Christians. Ellicott wrote this:

The Christian ideal is not freedom from work, but strength to do it; not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome it; not freedom from suffering, but joy in an abiding sense of the Father’s love; not absence from the world, but grace to make the world better for our presence; not holy lives driven from the world, and living apart from it, but holy lives spent in the world and leavening it.

Christians tend to be too sheepish. We need to approach God with confidence. Be relentless like the persistent widow in the parable of Jesus (Luke 18:1-8) so that when he does return he will find a persevering faith.

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