And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Time and time again I must admit that I am shamelessly guilty of declaring to others that “There is power in prayer” and “Prayer changes things.” Prayer is one of the most essential disciplines and aspects of my daily activities. Praying is one of the most important things an individual of faith or faith community can do. The past several weeks have provided an opportunity to engage in prayer and to connect with God in the midst of navigating through the challenging and unknown facets of our current reality. I have often been reminded that while prayer has the power to change things, the blessing of prayer is that prayer has the power to change us.
In this 17th Chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus prays when considering his disciples and asks God to protect them, make them one, “that they may have the full measure of my joy within them”, that the disciples would be guarded from the evil one and that they would be sanctified or made Holy for the witness and work that was ahead of them. There are times in our lives when our prayers are more focused on ourselves than others. In this moment, I am encouraged by the content and focus of Jesus’ prayer. When Jesus could have prayed for himself, he was praying for others. Praying for a change that would transform the world. My life has been transformed not only through my personal prayer life, but through the prayers others have prayed for me. Growing up, our community of faith would sing, “Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind, took the time and prayed for me. I’m so glad they prayed. I’m so glad they prayed for me.” Know today that on this day, somebody is praying for you.
Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray.
(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)