(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: John Ch. 17 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-5) John chapter 17 is often referred to as “The High Priestly Prayer”. Shortly before Jesus was to be crucified and fulfill the mission the Father gave Him, He prayed for himself, for the disciples during that time, and for future disciples. The words of His prayer tell us how much the disciples and the Church weighed on His heart.
Jesus says in verse 3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” This statement aptly sums up the definition of “eternal life”. Often times we think of eternal life as something that is only relevant after we die. (John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”) The truth is quite the contrary. The moment we profess faith in Jesus, or to use Paul’s words: “Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart” (Romans 10:9-10), we enter into a personal, intimate relationship with God. That moment marks the beginning of eternal life, not after we die! In other words, if we do not have Jesus, then we remain spiritually dead even as we live.
When Jesus prays in regard to Himself, His emphasis is to glorify God. Glory is an attribute of God. God is glory (v.5). We can say that God is worthy of glory because that is His attribute. Glory belongs to God. Moreover, when the will of God is accomplished, that is glory. Jesus said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” Therefore, we can glorify God in the same way, by obedience and accomplishing God’s will.
Are you willing to put “glorify God” in your prayer items? For the entire next month, you can commit to praying every day, “Lord, I want to glorify You,” and then see how God answers your prayer and helps you increase your obedience to His will!
(vv.6-19) Next Jesus prays for those closest to Him – His disciples, who followed and lived with Him for three years. Jesus makes 3 prayer requests in regard to the disciples: (v.11) That the Father would keep them united as one, (v.15) keep them from evil, and (v.17) sanctify them in the truth.
John 17:11 “…Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
John 17:15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
Do you yearn for a life marked by unity, being delivered from evil, and set apart as holy? That kind of life does not come from strict adherence to religious dogma and traditions, nor is it attained by the suppression of all desires and longing as a form of stoicism The key is to walk with Jesus, to have God’s Word stored in our hearts, and to live out God’s Word. Let His Word be the lamp to your feet and a light to your path. A righteous by grace comes from Jesus, who is the Word Incarnate. The work of sanctification is through the Written Word.
(vv.20-26) In the last part, we see that Jesus prays for future disciples. In this part we see an even broader unity, one that encompasses all the believers, the universal Church. This unity surpasses unity based on race, nationality, or language. It is a unity given by God. Through it, people can witness God’s glory.
In chapter 17, Jesus prayed about glorifying God. It would not have been accomplished if not for the cross. Jesus prayed for His disciples to be one and to be set apart as holy. It would not have been accomplished had the disciples not live out the Word in their daily lives. Jesus prayed for the people of the world. It would not have been accomplished had the disciples been too timid to carry out the great commission as commanded by the Lord.
We often worry about how exactly God will answer our prayers. On the other hand, Jesus’ prayers can be viewed as God’s promise. If Jesus’ prayer about us is unanswered, the fault lies not with Jesus, but with us instead. It is us, not Jesus, who often pray for the wrong things. It is not Jesus who asks with the wrong motives, but us. It is not God who needs to change, but us. Therefore, let us reflect: Are there areas in my life where I need to change?
- When we ask for God’s plans for us, is there a cross in that prayer? The Lord commanded his followers to deny themselves and pick up the cross daily, and then follow Him. Only when we are willing to closely follow Jesus will we discover and know God’s wonderful plan! Ask yourself, “Are there things I need to amend in this regard?
- When we pray for our church and for our co-workers in Christ, we ought to remember that unless we make God’s Word our foundation and pillars individually and as a church, we will be unable to unite as one. Beware of the tendency for us to walk toward sin and evil. Beware of the church becoming of this world rather than set apart from it. Ask yourself, “Are there things I need to amend in this regard?”
- When we pray for an even greater unity, we cannot neglect the Lord’s “great commission” to each of us. The Lord already told us that the harvest is plentiful. May we be willing to serve as the His workers. The Lord commanded us to go. May we all be sent by Him. Ask yourself, “Are there things I need to amend in this regard?”
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)