“I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching” (John 17:20).
Read verse 20 once more. Note what it says! This is Jesus praying for those who were following him. Understandable. Expected. Perhaps we do the same. Praying for those in our church, the missionaries we support and those spreading the gospel.
But … also praying for those who will believe in Jesus. Now, that’s confidence. Confidence in his followers to spread the word. In unknown people to respond. Can we pray like that? The first part might be easy: For those spreading the word (but read on below!). But what about the second part: To pray for those who will believe in Jesus. Who are they? Does it matter? Or is the challenge to widen our praying: To pray for unknown people who will hear the gospel. You may be able to name people you know who don’t believe, but it is probably pretty hard to name those you don’t know. But we are still called to pray for them!
Yet, there is more: Those who will believe in Jesus because of his followers’ teaching! In this whole section, Jesus is talking about leaving his followers, letting them continue his work and allowing them to take over the sharing of his teaching to proclaim the gospel!
And guess what? We are his followers! So Jesus prays for us. But more, he prays for those who will believe because of our teaching, lives, witness and actions. That’s some responsibility Jesus is putting on us! Except, it begins with Jesus praying for us. And prior to this, Jesus promised the Helper (Holy Spirit) to those who follow him (John 16:7–15).
So, Jesus blesses us with forgiveness and grace. And then, living grace-filled lives, we can pray for those (some of whom we know and some we don’t) who will believe because of our grace-filled lives. That’s pretty cool. Let’s go for it!
Lord, I ask that you show me to pray for all who need to hear your Word, just as you prayed for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.