One of the great encouragements for our prayer life is learning from the prayer life of Jesus. In John 17:1-5 Jesus prayed for Himself in a way that connects with Philippians 2:5-11. That important passage is known as the Kenosis Passage because the word “emptied” in v. 7 comes from the Greek word “kenosis.” The entire passage expands on what Jesus meant when He prayed in John 17:4-5 that He had accomplished the work that God gave Him to do, v. 4, and that He prayed for the Father to glorify me…with the glory that I had with you before the world existed, v. 5.
The first part of the Kenosis Passage tells us what “the work” was that Jesus said He “accomplished.” It involved 3 Steps Down according to Philippians 2:6-8: 1) He gave up His right to glory in heaven, vv. 6-7a (Note: He emptied Himself of His glory, not His deity), 2) He took the form of a man, a creature, vv. 7-8a, 3) He, a sinless man, voluntarily died the death of a cursed man, v. 8. This three-step process is how Jesus emptied and humiliated Himself and accomplished the work God gave Him.
The second part of the Kenosis Passage tells us that because of this God gave Jesus back the “glory” He prayed to receive that He “had with” the Father “before the world existed.” That consisted in 3 Steps Up in Philippians 2:9-11: 1-2) Resurrected and Ascended, v. 9 (highly exalted), 3) Receiving universal sovereignty, vv. 9-11a (bestowed on him the name that is above every name).
What is fascinating is that these 3 Steps Down followed by 3 Steps Up concluded “to the glory of God the Father,” v. 11b. That is exactly what Jesus prayed for in John 17:1 that the “Father” would “glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.” The Kenosis Passage makes it clear that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was answered. Now all of this is very instructive for our prayer life.
Jesus gave us the same privilege of answered prayer that He had. Jesus said earlier in John 16:26-27 “that you will ask in my name…for the Father himself loves you.” Because we are in Christ and Christ is in us, the Father has the very same love for His children that He has for His Son. So the intimacy in prayer with the Father that Jesus enjoyed is given to us as well.
Our prayers should be patterned after the way Jesus prayed. Several things become clear about how Jesus prayed. First, Jesus one request in John 17:1-5, repeated twice, was that He would glorify God. Therefore, the overarching request of all of our prayers should be that God is glorified by the way He answers. If we are in tune with the heart of Jesus, the Father’s glory should be our main priority.
Second, Jesus glorified God by accomplishing the work He was given to do. That tells us that answered prayer primarily has to do with enabling us to fulfill God’s mission for our lives to serve Him. Praying for a job, for example, is not so that we can live independently of God and have our needs met. We pray for a job so we can have the resources we need to live for the Lord and serve Him effectively. Without that, prayer is little more than an exercise in using God instead of serving Him.
Third, Jesus prayed for strength to endure the trial that came with His cross, not that He would escape it. Ultimately, in the garden, He prayed for the Lord’s will to be done which meant enduring the trial. We may pray for a trial to be removed, but only when we are surrendered to God’s will first. Prayer is not an escape mechanism, but a means for being strengthened for whatever God has willed.
Your friend, learning to pray, Pastor Brian (:-}).