Jesus' prayer in John 17 is not your typical Father's Day Bible passage. It's a prayer of Jesus for himself, his disciples, and all believers as he approached his crucifixion. Following my last post about praying women, let's turn to men.
In this amazing prayer of our Lord Jesus, I see a model. Following the verbs and Jesus' direct requests of the Heavenly Father, here are six requests every Christ following father can pray for his family.
Request #1: May my family Glorify God
Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You.—John 17:1
Start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. Start with God. Every one of your prayers should begin with an acknowledgement of God such as, "Father in Heaven" or "Dear God," and even the content of your prayer for your family starts with God. "God, would you grant that I and my family could bring you glory in everything we do." And name some ways. Offer specifics.
Request #2: May my family Grow in Knowledge
This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ.—John 17:3
This idea of knowing God is constant and continuous. You are praying your children and family members will establish and continually grow in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Your prayer is that they would abound more and more in the love of Jesus that transforms them. Talk to them Model for them. Teach them.
Request #3: May my family Guard the Faith
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one.—John 17:11
This a prayer of protection. What kind of protection? Our clue is in the end of the veres where Jesus prays "so that they may be one." In my experience it not so much the offense of others—we're all sinners and people will hurt me—but my own attitudes in reaction to others that brings division. My unforgiveness, if unconfessed, will grow into bitterness and worse. Pray humility and grace for your family; protection from their own attitudes that may divide and hinder their faith and others. Be humble. Be forgiving.
Request #4: May my family Get Set Apart
Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.—John 17:17
Be holy as I am holy, God calls. This is a request that our families would be sanctified, holy, set apart. This is a tough one in the media rich, time crunched, privacy invasive world we live in, but it is totally possible. Turn off the TV. Put down the electronic device or magazine. And read your Bible. Pray that your family members, especially your kids, will learn a life-long habit of Bible engagement. And model it. It will change their life. And yours.
Request #5: May my family Gather Together
I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.—John 17:23
This is a prayer that we would be closer to God and closer to one another. It's about unity. It's rooted in the requests that precede it. Being completely one with folks so different than us seems like such an impossibility until you have felt it in worship, in service, and in fellowship with one another. And there is a bonus: The world will know Jesus through our love for one another. Spend the time. Give your life. Gather together. Love one another.
Request #6: May my family Gain Eternity
Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.—John 17:24
To be where Jesus is—that's Heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place there for all who have committed their lives to him to be with him forever. That's our hope. That's our goal. But we've got work to do in serving him and loving others while we are here. As he prays above—and you know his words are faithful and true—the love of our families and Christ followers for one another will lead others to trust him too.
So, Dad, I know you got tons to pray about. Don't mean to add too much. I pray these requests serve as inspiration for you to pray like Jesus. Glorify, grow, guard, get, gather, and gain. For your family. For the Lord.
Be a Praying Dad!