Our pastor used a quote on Sunday, something about knowing a person by their prayers. And that is true, isn’t it? Our deepest longings and the things we are able to bring before God in the private space of our hearts – these show who we are, reveal our passions and motivations, perhaps our fears and weaknesses too. They show what we are driven by, what we hold most dear.
We normally think of prayer as a human to God interaction, but what happens when God becomes human? Jesus, as a man, prayed, but with the heart of God. Not only that, but some of his prayers he prayed out loud, and they were written down, giving us a precious insight into what God himself holds dear. Jesus’ prayers as he approached his own death were unselfishly focused on his disciples and future believers, and they can be found in John 17 in the Bible.
As I read these prayers, I noticed that Jesus really cared about those of us ‘still in the world’. Just that phrase, which he repeated a couple of times, gives this powerful impression of empathy. Life in the world was something Jesus knew. He had lived in the midst of the world’s complexity, its poverty, experienced the power of the world’s relationships, the fragility of being human. He understood first-hand the hunger of life in the world and its blessings. He knew what it was like to walk by a rippling lake, to make footprints in sand, to eat dinner with friends. He knew what it was like to kneel in the beauty of a garden at night, fresh air on his face, distant stars above, to feel the strange contrast of his own vulnerability with the natural world. He knew what it was like to stand in the world in all its messy beauty and face the weight of fear, loneliness and grief. He knew.
But his prayers reveal that He knew, also, a Father God. He knew him before the world began, He knew him so intimately they were One. He knew of a glory beyond this world, of a place of unity and wonder. He knew of a love that connected that glory, that wonderful beyond, with this world. A love so strong that it could visit this weary world, offer itself to all. Because of all he knew, He had joy, too.
And he prayed all he knew for us.
He prayed that we would know.
That we’d know glory.
That we’d know protection and safety.
That we’d know healing and holiness.
That we’d know unity.
That we’d know belonging.
That we’d know love.
That we’d know joy.
That we’d know eternal life.
That we’d know God.