Monday: Christ’s Prayer for Unity

It was Thursday night. After the Last Supper, Jesus and the disciples went toward the Mount of Olives. On their way to Gethsemane, Jesus stopped and prayed for Himself, for His disciples, and for all who later would believe in Him through the apostles’ preaching. Although the agony of the Cross was before Him, His greatest concern was not for Himself but for His followers. John 17 presents Jesus’ longest intercessory prayer recorded in the Bible. It is encouraging to think that He prayed for everyone who believes in Him, including each of us.

Image © Lars Justinen from

Image © Lars Justinen from

Read John 17. What was Jesus’ main prayer request to the Father regarding the believers? See especially John 17:21-23.

Unity is crucial for the life of the church. We can measure its importance by the fact that four times Christ repeated His eager desire that His followers may be one (John 17:11, 21-23). In that special final hour, the Lord could have prayed for many other very significant and necessary things. Instead, He focused His prayer on the unity of the believers. He knew that the greatest danger for the church would be a spirit of rivalry and division.

Jesus’ plea is not for uniformity but rather for a personal unity similar to His relationship with the Father. He and the Father are two persons, distinct from each other, with different functions. Yet, they are one in nature and purpose. By the same token, we all have different temperaments, backgrounds, abilities, and roles, but we all should be united in Jesus Christ.

This kind of unity does not happen spontaneously. In order to have it, we must fully accept Christ’s lordship in our lives. He must mold our character, and we must surrender our will to His will.

This unity is not an end in itself. It is a testimony to inspire the world to believe in Christ as the Savior sent by the Father. Harmony and union among men of diverse dispositions is the strongest witness possible that God has sent His Son to save sinners. It is an unquestionable evidence of Christ’s saving and transforming power. And we have the privilege of bearing this witness.

Many times unity is threatened by nothing other than selfishness. How can we make sure that we are not guilty of jeopardizing unity for no good reason?



Monday: Christ’s Prayer for Unity — 9 Comments

  1. Christ’s prayer for unity will not be automatically realized without our conscious cooperation with heaven towards this end.

    Perhaps the singular threat to church unity is self-love. In fact the root of all evil, described as the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10), amounts to the love of self manifested in financial form. And it may be noted that prosperity religion is never far removed from self-love theology. For why should anyone give up anything they are due.

    Some have genuine difficulty seeing the connection between seemingly ‘innocent’ beliefs and the overall Christian life. Perchance it takes eye salve, available only from the Holy Spirit.

    The notion of looking out for number 1 (ourselves) and that we all equally deserve to have our way because we are all equal in essence or nature leads many to assert rights, and insist on their way, and soon there is conflict. Many controversies might have been avoided had there been a willingness to yield rather than making claims (Luke 14:7-11).

    So what if the committee never considered even one of our many ‘brilliant’ suggestions (in our estimation)? Is it not God who is ultimately in control?

    The great want of the church is humility, without which it is impossible to please God.

    EGW observed, “Self-esteem and self-love are eating out the vitals of true godliness in the church. Many whose names are on the church books are not truly converted. They do not realize the necessity of having a personal connection with Christ. The heart that has not fallen on the Rock, Christ Jesus, is proud of its wholeness. Men desire a dignified religion; they would walk in a path wide enough to take in their own attributes. Their self-love, their love of praise, excludes the precious Saviour from the heart; for God can not accept any heart that is not wholly his.” (RH October 16, 1900)

      • Aha! I had to have a little smile to myself when I saw this question. The problem is that there are people like me who think we have a really good idea about what the church should be doing and how we should think; and the people just will not listen to me. And sometimes I act on those ideas before I have slept on them.

        We are all growing Christians - learning to love and to share. Sometimes we are selfish and need to ask for forgiveness and sometimes we forget to ask. Whenever I am inclined to ask "What is wrong with the church?", I ask myself the question, "Is it the church's problem or is it me?" And it helps to be thankful for a community of believers who are supportive, even when I am a selfish cranky old coot!

      • Lack of oneness. It's in all Churches, big and small. You can hide it better in the big church.
        When the Church forgets the reason why they are there, JESUS, it's all about Jesus. Not who wants to do what, and if that person don't get to do what they want they get mad. People the time is short. We need to get ready if your not happy on earth how do you think you can be happy in heaven? It's not about getting your way, it's about serving Jesus and teaching the Word. That is my 2 cents

      • And why do we have misunderstanding in our own families say like two daughters and two sons yet of one mummy daddy?
        Irene cannot be Henry however much people may want to group us together in terms of how we think, carry ourselves, dress etc we are different. However, differences must not cause others to stumble for we need to seek, ask, knock ... for that divine power we discussed last week. The Father is more than willing to help us reason together. Thank you

  2. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Eph. 4:11-13.
    Since the passing of the apostles Eph.4 has been very elusive to all Christian since , I think bigotry and infidelity for the most part is responsible for the present Christian division . Because we say that we believe in Jesus , and we talk about him. But we chose what we want to believe. Most of us do not believe that we have to be perfect as Christ is. And that make’s us infidels of the worse kind. Maybe in this we are united.

  3. We don't supose to ask -WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

    RATHER, we can ask WHO IS THE CHURCH? THE church is the regenerate people of GOD saved by the power of GOD for the purpose of GOD in this world :-we dont stop being the church when we walk out of the building on saturday.

  4. Jesus prayed, that the Disciples will be "selfless" in the Building of His Church.
    Because, "selfishness" would become the
    destruction of the Church Eternally.


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