Chapter seventeen is one of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible. Approaching Gethsemane after the Upper Room Discourse Jesus spent time alone in prayer. Although the Synoptics record only that he prayed for God’s will and that he had asked the apostles to join him from a distance, only John gives the actual prayer Jesus made. This is truly the “Lord’s Prayer.”
This prayer can be divided into three sections. In John 17:1-5 Jesus began by connecting with the Father. He recognized that the eternal plan was always to glorify the Father; he stated that he had finished his work; and he asked that he be allowed to return to Heaven and reclaim the full glory he had set aside in his incarnation (see Philippians 2:5-8).
In John 17:6-19 he prayed for his apostles who were (sleeping) a short distance away. He thanked the Father for the time he had spent with them, teaching them the Father’s truth. He prayed for their safety from the Enemy in the coming days when he would no longer be with them, especially before the Holy Spirit came upon them (nearly two months later). He prayed that they would experience the supernatural joy that comes with being connected to the Father. He prayed that they would stay consecrated to God through the Scriptures.
Finally, in John 17:20-26, Jesus prayed for all “those who believe in me through their testimony,” i.e., all those who would come to faith after the apostles, including us today. He prayed specifically for our unity. He also prayed that we would accomplish our mission of presenting the truth of Jesus to the world. He finished by praying for the day when we would all finally be together forever. What a wonderful thought to consider that the Savior prayed for me and you just hours before he faced the cross!