“I am not praying for the world, but for those ones you have given me, for they are yours”. John 17:9
Those words come from Jesus’ heartfelt prayer for his closest friends and disciples, just before he went to the cross, burdened by the sin and shame of the world. It is such a direct and specific prayer and to me, it reflects so simply the heart of the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus was for everyone; he was scandalously inclusive; his influence has shaped the world more than any other individual’s. He was the hope of the world; that was his mission, but his method was the one. The way he would ultimately reach the world was by extending love to the individual. So he prayed, not for the world, because, as he had stated just a chapter before “take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). No, he prayed for the ones that God had given him.
The power of ministry, as demonstrated by Jesus, is in personal relationships. It is in the awareness that God moves in the space between two people. When we foster a relationship with one of the ones he has given us, we create space for Him to move. The discernment of the Holy Spirit is so vital in maintaining control of this space: sometimes, we may need to create more space for God, by getting out of the way ourselves.
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. John 3:30
Sometimes we have to get our ego out of the way, sometimes we have to get our offence out of the way, sometimes we have to get our convenience out of the way to make space for God to work.
Sometimes though, we give him a little bit too much space! Sometimes we needs us to move a little closer, to close the gap a little bit, find some common ground. Sometimes we need to reach out, or take a step closer to someone. When we position ourselves according to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, that space is holy ground.
Let’s think about who the ones are that God has given us and, following in the footsteps of Jesus, let’s pray for those ones, because they are His.