“While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (v. 12).
One of the greatest blessings about being a part of the church of Christ is that we can ask others to pray for us. Most of us have benefited from the prayers of God’s people when we were going through trial. When we feel all “prayed out,” we know that we have mighty intercessors to lift us up to the Father.
As wonderful as it is to have others in the church pray for us, there is One whose prayers we desire most—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus has perfect knowledge of our heavenly Father (John 5:20), which means that He always prays according to the Father’s will for His people. Moreover, the Father perfectly loves His Son, Jesus, and has given all things over to Him (3:35). Because of this love and because Jesus cannot pray for anything besides God’s will, God always answers the prayers of His Son with a yes.
So, we find ourselves greatly encouraged by today’s passage, wherein we read Jesus’ prayer that the Father would keep His disciples in the Father’s name, the name that has also been given to the Son (17:12). In the Old Testament, the name of the Lord frequently appears as a stand-in for God Himself or for one or more of His attributes. Thus, to trust in the name of the Lord and not in chariots is to trust in God Himself for protection (Ps. 20:7). Similarly, to say that the name of the Lord is a “strong tower” in which the righteous find safety is to say that righteous people are protected by the mighty power of God (Prov. 18:10). Given that background, for Jesus to pray that we would be kept in the name of God is for Him to pray that we remain united to God through trusting in Him. It is a prayer for our perseverance in faith until the end. For Jesus to pray for His earthly disciples to be kept in God’s name just as Jesus guarded them is for Him to pray for God’s power to keep them from finally falling away (John 17:12). And since the Father never fails to answer the prayers of the Son, we know that the prayers of Jesus keep safe in God’s hands all who truly rest on Christ alone for salvation.
Only one of Jesus’ original disciples was lost—Judas. His betrayal was ordained in the Scriptures (John 17:12); consequently, we may infer that Jesus never prayed for him. In fact, both Judas and Peter betrayed our Lord, but only Peter returned to Him. Why? Because Jesus prayed for Peter and not for Judas (Luke 22:31–32; John 21:15–19). The efficacious prayers of Jesus made Peter persevere, and they will make all His true disciples persevere.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John that “we rest on confidence in the efficacy of the prayers of Jesus, not our own consistency as Christians.” If we had to trust in ourselves for our perseverance, we would despair. But we are encouraged that perseverance depends not finally on us but on the efficacious prayers of Christ. Thank Jesus today for praying for you, and honor His prayers by continuing to cling to Him in faith.