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Are Your Prayers God-Centered?

Kingdom Prayer Perspectives from John 17:1

By J. Chris Schofield

Office of Prayer, BSCNC

www.praync.org

Intro

One day while preparing to speak at a conference I went into a small Sunday school classroom to pray. As I sat in a chair and prayed I scanned the room and noticed that numerous prayer requests were listed on a white board. I thought it was interesting that all the prayer requests on the white board were focused on upcoming health tests and various physical needs in people’s lives. In fact, none were focused on spiritual issues or the Father and His work in the circumstances of these people’s lives.

Through the years I have observed that we often spend much of our time praying toward temporal issues that are focused on our circumstances and desires. The reality is that if North America is to be penetrated with the Gospel, our prayers will need to focus on our Father and His purposes and desires. Jesus shows us how to pray toward the Father in John 17:1.

John 17:1-Focusing on the Father and His Desires

“…Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…”

The “high priestly” prayer of John 17 takes place in Jesus’ passion during the last week of His earthly life. Despite these intense circumstances, His prayer was focused on the Father and His mission being fulfilled.

The God-centeredness of Jesus’ prayer is first seen with the use of the term “Father” in verse 1.[1] Jesus shows us that prayer is relational and is not just something we just do, like a ritual or task. He is modeling the principal that intimacy with the Father is essential as we pray.

The phrase “the hour has come,” points to Jesus’ awareness of the significant times that were near. He was sensitive to the Father’s hour. Jesus was praying with a view toward what the Father was accomplishing in His world. Are we praying toward the Father’s hour in our world?

Jesus’ prayer “Glorify the Son, that the Son may glorify Thee” demonstrates selfless praying. His desire is that all would recognize who the Father was through His own glorification.[2] His act of obedience in surrendering to the cross allows for the completion of the work of the Christ beyond that event. As Jesus is glorified, the lost world is redeemed and the Father is ultimately made known as His followers tell the story of the Christ down through the ages (see John 17:20). Warren Wiersby correctly comments, “We glorify our Father in heaven by being what Jesus told us to be: salt in a decaying world and light in a dark world (Matt. 5:13-16).”[3] God-centered praying produces passionate and effective witnesses-- It did then and it will now!

How then shall we pray?




[1] The term “Father” or some form (e.g., “Holy Father”) of this intimate address is used 6 times in this chapter: verses, 1, 5, 11, 21, 24, and 25. All Biblical terms/phrases are from the NASB translation.

[2]The glorification/exaltation of Jesus is linked to the three “lifted up” sayings in John (John 3:14-15; John 8:28; John 12:32). The Father is glorified as the Son is lifted up on the cross, out of the grave and to the right hand of the Father—where He ever lives to make intercession for those who believe (see Hebrews 7:25). The Father is thus made known (glorified) as Jesus obeys and is lifted up.

[3]Warren Wiersby, On Earth As it is in Heaven (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2010), 27.

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Comment by L. Grace Bradley on May 2, 2012 at 12:02pm

It seems to me that what Chris Schofield is saying here is that prayer needs to be personal conversation between our heavenly Father and ourselves. No one really appreciates a one way conversation, least of all our Lord. So the challenge for us is  learn to be still, to listen, to identify His voice, seek confirmation within the Word and/or from experienced listeners.  

Comment by Janice Garey on May 1, 2012 at 10:40pm

I am so glad I happened upon this posting tonight. It is so true! Sometimes the Father via the Holy Spirit leads us to just what we need at a certain moment in time.

Comment by Lillian A. Penner on July 22, 2010 at 7:18pm
I agree. It seems like the only part of our lives people want to share with others is their health problems. It is so sad because like you say that is so temporal. We need to be able to share our hearts and be transparent with others.
Comment by Sherry Annette Jones on July 12, 2010 at 10:00am
I agree with others that this was a timely message and helpful to how I am praying now.
Comment by Lani van Dalsen on July 12, 2010 at 12:11am
I agree.We as the body need to be reminded how to direct our prayers so they are more Kingdom directed and God focussed. Thanks for the reminder.
Comment by Haggai Akisani Abayilo on July 9, 2010 at 5:24am
Thanks Chris for reawaken our mode of prayer through this posting. At times we tend to focus our prayers on the happenings around us; rather than focusing our prayers on God. we want God to only meet our immediate needs than His will for us. I pray that the Lord will help us center our prayers on His Will not our will, that He alone will be glorified in all we do.
Comment by Betty Boswell on June 30, 2010 at 5:07pm
How timely. We are reviving a prayer group at our church.
Comment by Joan Sundberg on June 26, 2010 at 9:34pm
It's amazing how God speaks when we are focused on Him and listening. I applaud the perspective you brought forward in this piece.
Comment by Millicent Battick on June 26, 2010 at 12:52am
Lord I pray for increased internet access for Africa at a reasonable rate that will facilitate access for your body to share, interact and learn from each other. Iron sharpening iron. Lord give visions to internet providers that will extend your Kingdom and provide avenues for members of your Body to grow on the sincere milk of your word.
Comment by Mark S Mirza on June 25, 2010 at 9:03am
Good word Chris, blessings my friend

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