Sermon: Pray for God’s Glory


Pray for God’s Glory
John 17:1-5
January 15, 2023

Relationships are hard work.  Communication is hard work.  Listening carefully, thinking rightly, talking, and talking graciously are all hard work.  There are times it seems like it might just be easier or better to be silent.  (It’s not better.)  Unfortunately, we sometimes consider the hard work of spiritual disciplines and come to a similar conclusion — the hard work is not worth the effort.  We are wrong when we think that.  It is hard.  But it is worthwhile.  And perhaps prayer is the hardest work in our relationship with God.  We are too quick to give up with it and too prone to be too short with it.

In Matthew 6 in what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus taught His disciples and us how to pray by giving a pattern for prayer.  In John 17, Jesus demonstrates how God prays and how He prays for us.  Have you ever wondered what conversation between the members of the Triune God is like?  We know that Jesus intercedes for His children (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) — have you ever been curious how Jesus intercedes for you when He talks to God about you?  This prayer answers both those questions.  It is a revelation of the dynamic of the inter-Trinitarian workings and the desires God has for us.

Because of that unique revelation (it’s the lengthiest recorded conversation between the Son and the Father) John 17 is a particularly rich and stimulating passage of Scripture.  Of this passage, Luther said, “This is truly, beyond measure, a warm and hearty prayer.  He opens the depths of His heart, both in reference to us and to His Father, and He pours them all out.  It sounds so honest, so simple; it is so deep, so rich, so wide, no one can fathom it.”   Luther’s co-laborer and close friend Melanchthon wrote, “There is no voice which has ever been heard, either in heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than the prayer offered up by the Son of God himself.” [Hughes, John, 391.]

Believers have long been drawn to this passage:  John Knox had it read to him every day during his final illness — and it was read to him as he entered glory upon his earthly death.  Boice’s 17 sermons on the passage pale in comparison to Thomas Manton’s (chaplain to Oliver Cromwell) 45!  It has been called “The High Priestly Prayer,” “The (True) Lord’s Prayer,” and a “Holy of Holies.”

We come to this prayer this morning because one Sunday at the beginning of every year, we spend a week on Scripture and another week on prayer.  This morning we learn from the lips of Jesus how to pray.  Specifically, we learn how to pray for God’s glory.  The first section (vv. 1-5) focuses on the glory of Christ.  Simply stated, the glory of God is the revelation of the character and nature of God.  The more that is revealed about Him, the greater His glory.  So when Christ prays for God to be glorified through Him and for Him to receive the glory of God, He is merely praying for God to be more greatly revealed.  The encouragement to us is then two-fold:  these are the truths about God that should bring us the greatest delights, and these should be truths that we seek to reveal about God.

Remember the context of this prayer:  it is given for the disciples in the Upper Room.  After these words, He would lead the disciples across the Kidron Valley to Gethsemane, where He also prayed in the Garden for them (cf. Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46).  This prayer serves as something of a benediction by Christ for the disciples after He has taught them throughout His ministry and on the night of the last supper.

While Jesus will pray for the Twelve (vv. 6-19) and for us (vv. 20-26), He begins by praying for Himself.  The intercession He makes for Himself is particularly instructive for us because it demonstrates what is on His mind and heart as He is going to the cross.  Judas is “in the shadows” and the trial, beatings, and cross are all looming in the hours ahead.  What does He pray for Himself in that context?

Christ prays for and teaches us to pray for God’s glory.

What is most important for Christ is the exaltation of God.  What is most essential to Christ is that the Father is revealed in all His fullness and that Christ would delight in the reality of the Father.  Even when He prayed for Himself, He was concerned most of all for the glory of the Father.  His prayer in vv. 1-5 is a demonstration of how He taught us to pray — “Our Father who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name…”

So how did Christ pray for Himself and how did He pray for God’s glory?  He prayed for God’s glory in five ways: 

  1. Christ Asked for God to be Glorified (v. 1)
  2. Christ Submitted to the Glory of God’s Authority (v. 2)
  3. Christ Sought God’s Glory in Giving Eternal Life (v. 3)
  4. Christ Exhibited God’s Glory in His Work (v. 4)
  5. Christ Asked for Restoration to God’s Glory in Heaven (v. 5)

Download the rest of this sermon on John 17:1-5.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website by Tuesday.

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2 thoughts on “Sermon: Pray for God’s Glory

  1. Blessed with this ‘always-awesome’
    John 17 message. And, BTW, your heart
    was showing ‼️ Since it’s one of three top faves anyway, what’s not to like ???

    Thanks, Terry.

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. So glad you were feeling well enough to watch. Your gracious husband said that was a favorite passage of yours (as it is of me). So glad you were encouraged. What a great Word the Lord has given to us.

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