Invited to Pray in 2018

Aaron Peck Blog

This week, we said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018 into our lives. And as we usher in this new year, full of its hopes and possibilities, we are invited to spend time, daily, in prayer.

On Sunday, Darrell Cook brought us a message that spun out of personal conviction, and from a passage of scripture that can be accurately called the Lord’s Prayer. No, it’s not the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6. This, instead, comes from John 17. These are the words that Jesus prayed, just before He was to be arrested.

It’s in this prayer that we are given four key words. Darrell, in inviting, encouraging, and challenging us to pray with him each day for the first two weeks of the year, gave us these four words as points of focus for our prayers in the coming days.

  • Unity – “Lord, help me see unity the way You see unity and help what I see about unity change the way I think and act.”
  • Word – “Lord, help me see Your word the way You see Your word and help what I see about Your word change the way I think and act.”
  • World – “Lord, help me see the world the way You see the world and help what I see about the world change the way I think and act.”
  • Sent – “Lord, help me see being sent the way You see being sent and help what I see about being sent change the way I think and act.”

Simple enough, right? But there is a great deal that can be unpacked when looking at each of these individual words.

What does it mean to have unity? Among believers, it means finding connection with one another through Christ. It is He who provides our unity, and not we ourselves.

“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” – John 17:11

Connecting through Christ, being kept in His name, we know that we belong to our loving Heavenly Father. This is what provides us with true unity, far more than anything we could do to actively try to obtain unity for ourselves. And Jesus’ prayer was not just for the disciples who walked side-by-side with Him. His prayer, as we see further down in verse 20, is for us as well: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…”

In verse 17, Jesus prayed that His people would be sanctified through the truth of God’s Word. How does His Word sanctify us? How does it set us apart?

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:22-25

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

When the Word of God is simply allowed to be the Word of God, it says so much.

And when we look at the world, how are we seeing it? How do we view this place where we live? Do we view the world and the people in it as our enemies? Or do we love the world? Jesus prays, in John 17:14, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” It is in the world’s sin nature to hate what is good and what is true. How easy is it for us to respond in kind? God loves the world. We are called to do the same.

And if we are to love the world, then we must live as if we are purposefully sent into the world. Jesus was sent. His disciples were sent. We, too, are sent.

The idea of being sent is peppered throughout the entirety of John 17. And it’s driven home in verse 18: “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

As these words are written, we are now three days into 2018. Have you been able to embrace the invitation that Darrell gave us on Sunday morning? Have you been willing? For two weeks, pray each day. Focus on four simple words: UNITY – WORD – WORLD – SENT.

You can download this month’s Prayer Sheet here.