15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
We are protected from the evil one through the prayer of Jesus. He sends us into the world as he was sent, to share the truth about his love and unity that is lost in a time of division. The unity begins with our brothers and sisters and spills into our contexts as we set ourselves apart for God.
- When have you experienced the protection of God?
- What do you practice to remind yourself that you belong not to the world but to God? What comfort do you find in this?
Gracious Lord, thank you for setting us an example of living in the world but not being overcome by the evil one. Help us to continue to look to you and to set ourselves apart in our heart so that we reflect your truth to the world, beginning with those closest to us. In Your name, Amen.
20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
This prayer is for us, those who have believed in Christ through the word and work of the early church. We have much to be thankful for as we consider those who have gone before us and faithfully lived out their faith. And it is a reminder to us that we are all leaving a legacy for the following generations through our love and unity.
- What do you appreciate about the faith of the church before you?
- What legacy are you hoping to leave to the next generation?
- How are you cultivating unity with the church today?
Gracious Lord, we thank you that you had us in mind as well as you sat and prayed over your first disciples. Help us to live in gratitude for your faithfulness and to live in unity with our brothers and sisters today that we might leave a legacy for the next generation. In your name, Amen.
24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus longs for us to be with him always, and to be caught up in the love, glory and delight that is a part of our Trinitarian God. We get a taste of it through the Spirit in our lives and a deepening relationship with God.
- How does it feel for you to know that Jesus desires you to be with him?
- How does that inform the way you live in the world?
- How are you practicing ways to draw closer to God and experience his deep love and delight?
Gracious Lord, thank you that we belong to you and that you desire us to be with you. Thank you that by your Spirit we are with you, united in love and growing in knowledge of you. Keep us close to you that we might reflect you to others. In Your name, Amen.
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
This benediction, or good word, carries deep meaning for us as we are filled with concern for others, and even our own loss during this time. It is good to stop and let these words of blessing and promise wash over us today.
- Read these verses through a few times. What word of promise renews your spirit today?
- How have you seen the Lord bless you and keep you during this time?
- How might you carry these good words with you as you do the things that are yours to do this day?
Gracious God, each word that describes your love for us is a blessing to our tired hearts. Thank you that you are with us and attending to us and those we love during this time. Comfort those who are alone with your peace. May we fill ourselves with the hope of these good words that in all we do, your love pours out on those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Sometimes it is easy to pray because we have specific requests. Other times we are unable to express our deepest pain and longing. In those times, as we sit in the presence of God in silence and God hears our deepest need, we can be confident that God knows and is shaping us for a hope-filled future.
- What are you hoping for? What does it look like for you to wait for it with patience?
- What might God be desiring for you during this time? What might God be saying to you?
- Is there someone in your life that you can share the presence of God with through a phone call or a card today?
Gracious God, thank you that you know all things. Thank you that even when we are unable to voice our prayers, you know. Right now we hope for what we cannot see – healing, restoration, recovery. And we wait for it patiently. Help us to acknowledge and reflect your faithfulness in the here and now, even as we wait for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.