Down There On Our Knees

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Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. The famous “Lord’s Prayer,” recorded in places like Matthew 6:9-13, is repeated verbatim in many places around the world. It some contexts it has become more mantra, or “rabbit’s foot” than it is actually prayer, but nonetheless it is said.  For decades it was prayed in classrooms and at special events. Unhappily, in many of our North American churches, prayer, if it exists at all, is perfunctory. This is to our shame, if only because prayer was so important to Jesus and, supposedly, we are to concern ourselves with what is important to Him.

The Lord’s last action with His disciples before His arrest was to pray. He prayed with them before they left the upper room and then He went to garden to pray again. John 17 records His final prayer with His followers. This morning, as I read the passage again, two verses in particular stuck out.

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you have me—so that they may be one as we are one” (17:11).

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have love me” (17:22, 23).

Jesus’ last concern was for the unity of His followers.

Unity is described as:

1 European unity: union, unification, integration, amalgamation; coalition, federation, confederation. ANTONYMS division.
2 unity between alliance members: harmony, accord, cooperation, collaboration, agreement, consensus, solidarity; formal concord, concordance. ANTONYMS strife, discord.
3 the organic unity of the universe: oneness, singleness, wholeness, uniformity, homogeneity.

Jesus considered unity to be essential to His mission of reconciliation.

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that unity among believers, as modeled by the unity between God the Father and God the Son, isn't seen much in His church.

Is that too broad a statement? I don’t think so. A lifetime of church experience in various contexts tells me that we aren’t doing a very good job at unity. And that has effected the impact we have had on the world around us. Our credibility before the world isn’t very impressive.

The Lord knew His followers then as He knows us now. He knew that unity among believers would always be an issue. It is no wonder that His last act was to pray for the element that could bring Him the most glory, and whose absence would bring His church to its knees.

But wait, bringing the church to its knees isn’t such a bad thing. Perhaps down there, on their knees, its members will pray once more for the unity that the Lord Jesus thought so important. Perhaps down there, repentance and revival will come. Perhaps down there, on our knees, the spark will once again ignite the fire that first turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) in the advance of God’s kingdom.



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