Today is the 37th day of Lent, a 40 day season of spiritual reflection, repentance, and renewal. During these 40 days we’ll explore the prayer life of Jesus, walking chronologically through every mention of Jesus’ prayer life and prayers in the Gospels.
For whom did Jesus pray? We have 29 references in the Gospels to Jesus’ prayer-life. Of these references, we have 10 actual prayers Jesus prayed. For whom did Jesus pray? If we could look at his prayer list, who would be on it?
While it’s almost certain Jesus prayed for many others, we do know he prayed specifically for four groups of people:
We find Jesus praying for children: 15Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:15-16 ESV)
We find Jesus praying for the apostles/disciples:
- 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours… Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:9-19 ESV).
- 31″Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. (Lk. 22: 31-32 ESV).
- 50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.(Lk. 24:50-51 ESV).
We find Jesus praying for the church: 20″I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23 ESV).
And we find Jesus praying for his enemies: 34And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34 ESV).
In other words we find Jesus praying for those who cannot speak for themselves, those with whom he’s engaged in mission and ministry, those who make his life difficult, and those around the world who would follow him. The forgotten, his fellow-laborers, his foes, and his international family.
Which of these four show up on your prayer list? Which do not? Why? Why not?