John 17 details Jesus' last prayer on earth before the crucifixion. I am always fascinated by it.
I've noted before on my own blog how Jesus prays for the 11, talking about how they are the ones he was sent for, and how he delivered all of them to the end. That amazes me, that Jesus’ training primarily focused on 11 people. Not quite a mega-church model, in and of itself.
I’m also moved that Jesus prays for us, you and me, in the prayer. He prays for us specifically, and that continues to break me down and remind me of how loved I am. It was as I was reading that passage of the chapter today that a new thought hit me.
Jesus says this in vs 20-21: "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." Jesus prays for us, through the disciples. What I mean is, Jesus prays for the ones he had taught, and then prays for the ones they would teach, generation after generation.
I do okay praying for my students and families. But what about the people they will teach? For some reason, it's hitting me that I don't pray for them.
My students will have varying levels of "success" in growing in their faith. I'm spending a lot of time right now in the Sticky Faith cohort discussing it, thinking about it, planning for it, and re-working ministry for it. But here in John 17 Jesus prays a sticky prayer, if you will. He prays for his students, and then prays for their students. When I consider this and apply it to the students in our ministry, it reminds me of the impact that God is planning down the road. Our investment isn't just in them. It's in men and women I will never meet who they will impact. It's in future believers who aren't born yet, that one day our students will grow and pass their faith onto. This is a side of Sticky Faith that I simply haven't given much thought to. I've given even less prayer to it.
But Jesus did.
At the end of his life, with the clock ticking, this is what he prays for. He prays for those he loved and taught, and he prays for the ones they would one day love and teach. And their spiritual grandchildren, great-grandchildren, all the way down to me. And you.
If Jesus knew its value, at this time and place, it's surely worth our daily investment.
The only question is: will we?