The Priestly Prayer of Jesus

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus.

“When Jesus had spoken these things, He lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour is come.'”         (John 17:1).

The time to complete His self-emptying has arrived. He is ready to give Himself up, for no one can take His life from Him without His permission. The time for sacrifice draws near. He has given His Farewell Discourse, His longest recorded conversation with his disciples, which included the Last Supper and the washing of feet. He closed His conversation with the triumphant declaration that He has overcome the world, He has conquered it for all believers everywhere. Jesus looked up then, He lifted His eyes, and spoke the most important word in His vocabulary… “Father.” What follows in John 17 is the true Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is the hinge between His final instructions and His Passion. His High Priestly Prayer, His longest recorded prayer, is lifted up intimately to the Father. No one has to wonder what was on the Lord’s mind just before the Passion. This prayer is what was in His heart at this defining moment. He tenderly, powerfully prayed for Himself, for His Apostles, and all believers in His future Church. Since there is such a precise recording of Jesus’ prayer, He knowingly prayed within earshot of the Disciples, or at least within the hearing of St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. If we needed convincing, Jesus presents Himself in His prayer as the Great Intercessor, a role He has relished and continues to practice to this day.


Father, unveil the glorious splendor of me, your Son, so that I in turn will have the privilege of magnifying your bright glory. Exalt me as I am lifted up, Father, so that I can display you in your splendor. (v. 1);

You have given me authority over all people, so that I may give the gift of eternal life to all those that you have given me. (v. 2);

And this is eternal life, that they deeply understand and personally experience you as the only true God, and that they also know me as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, whom you have sent into the world. (v. 3);

I have exalted and glorified you, Father, everywhere I went on this earth, by faithfully completing what you told me to do, down to the last detail. (v. 4);

So, dear Father, restore me back to the majesty and honor we enjoyed together when we were face-to-face before the world was created. (v. 5);


I have revealed your Name, your true Self, to those whom you gave to me. I spelled out your character in detail to those who were yours in the first place. They have kept your Word, they have now done what you said. (v. 6);

They know now that everything I have is a gift from you and belongs to you. For the words that you spoke to me I have given to them. They have accepted your words and are convinced with absolute assurance that I came forth from your presence. (vs. 7-8);

So I am praying for my disciples right now, not for the world. I am  praying for these you have given to me, who belong to you. (v. 9);

All those who belong to me now also belong to you, and all those who belong to you belong to me as well. My glory is on display through them. (v. 10);

Holy Father, I am about to leave this world to return and be with you, but they will remain here. Protect them by the power of your Name, and watch over them so that they can be united, even as we are united. (v. 11);

During my time here I have protected those you gave to me, I have kept them safe by the power of your Name. Not one of them has perished, except the one that was destined to be lost, so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled. (v. 12);

Soon I am returning to you, so I am saying these things while I am still in the world. I pray that these disciples may have my joy completed in them. I pray that they would experience my gladness and delight within them, filling their hearts to overflowing. (v. 13);

I have delivered your message to them, and this godless world has hated them because of it. They didn’t join the world’s ways, just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. They are not of this world, because I am not of this world. (v. 14);

I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the Evil One. (v. 15);

These disciples are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. They no longer belong to this world any more than I do. (v. 16);

Set them apart with your Truth. Sanctify them and make them holy by your Word, which is Truth.  (v. 17);

In the same way that you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. You gave me a mission in the world, and I likewise send them into the world with a mission. (v. 18);

I am setting myself apart for their sakes, sanctified and dedicated to God, so that they will also be made holy in the Truth. (v. 19);


I am praying not only for the sake of my disciples here, but also for all those who will one day believe in me because of their message. (v. 20);

The goal is that all believers will be joined together as one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you; that they may be one in us, so that the world may be convinced that you, in fact, have sent me. (v. 21);

I have given to them the same honor and glory you gave to me, so that they will be joined together as one and experience the same unity that we enjoy. (v. 22);

I am in them, and you are in me; may they have such perfect unity that the world would be convinced that you have sent me, for they will see that you love each one of them with the same passionate love that you have for me. (v. 23);

Father, I pray that these you have entrusted to me will be with me right where I am, so that they may see my full glory, the splendor you gave me, because you have loved me even before the foundation of the world. (v. 24);

O righteous Father, although the world has not known you, and has failed to recognize you, I have known you continually. And these disciples know you have sent me. (v. 25);

I have revealed your Name to them, I have made known to them your true Person, your very Self, and I will continue to make you known, so that the love you have bestowed upon me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them. (v. 26).

Once the Great Intercessor completed His prayer to the Father, Jesus and His disciples immediately walked to a regular meeting spot at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane. It was at this time that Jesus took Peter, James and John to a quiet place there to pray. Jesus was in agony as He contemplated what was before Him now… betrayal by one of His own, arrest, beatings, a scourging, the shameful torture of the cross, and the mystery of death. With all this weighing heavily on His spirit, Jesus pleaded for His Father to take Him away from all this suffering. An angel sent from heaven came to Jesus to minister to Him as He prayed. Jesus gathered the courage to finally say… Not my will, Father, but yours, be done. (Luke 22:39-46).