The office of the high priest was instituted when God gave the law to the Israelites. The high priest was responsible for interceding for Israel before God. In John 17, Jesus our Lord interceded for Himself, His disciples and all believers so the prayer became known as the High Priestly prayer.
Who can know exactly how to pray to God better than the Son of God Himself who had been with God since eternity past and for all eternity. This prayer, together with the Lord’s Prayer, will be comprehensive enough as examples to pray for oneself and others for the main petition priorities are mentioned in them. How important it will be for all believers to know the petition priorities made in these two prayers by our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer is a personal prayer while the High Priestly Prayer is a corporate prayer. One prays for oneself for provisions, forgiveness and deliverance; the other prays for the security, sanctification and unity of one’s disciples and the church at large.
The outline of this High Priestly prayer is as follows :
- Jesus prayed for Himself. Vs 1-5
- Jesus prayed for the security of His disciples. Vs 6-12
- Jesus prayed for the sanctification of His disciples. V s3-19
- Jesus prayed for His whole Body of believers. Vs 20-26
The main petition priorities gleaned from the High Priestly prayer are :
- Pray to submit to God’s given mission and obey for the sake of God’s glory. Vs 1-5
- Pray for the security, sanctification and unity of one’s disciples, or local church or fellowship.
- Pray (similarly) that we will teach the Word of God faithfully and that the disciples will receive them and come to know the truth, particularly to know the truth about Christ and that God sent Him. Vs 8
- Pray for their security and unity. Vs 11
- Pray for them to have joy. It is so necessary living in these end times when we will be persecuted. Pray that they will endure with the joy set before them looking forward to the coming glory. Vs 13
- Pray for them to be protected from the evil one. Vs 15
- Pray to sanctify them with the truth. Vs 17
- Pray for the unity of the church at large. By praying for the other churches around the world, we are made to be aware of the similar struggles of the least of our brothers in these groups or nations. Christian unity is not about denominational membership but about shared life in Christ. It is about common love, common purpose and common mission just like in the first century.