community group discussion guide

The Lord in Prayer

John 17:13-19


Note: We’re pausing our series in James for a week to consider part of Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17.

On the night of his arrest, Jesus prays to God the Father in the presence of his closest followers. Jesus’ prayer is both a summary of his teaching and the beginning of the end of his mission while in the world.

Jesus prays that his mission would continue through his followers. As his disciples overhear his prayer, they find themselves swept up in a calling that transcends anything they could have dreamed. With the overflowing joy and the certainty of their mission, they can face a difficult world and “the evil one” (v. 15) with confidence.

opening question

What is the significance of Jesus praying throughout his life?

read John 17:13-19 (NIV)

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Take a few moments to reflect on the Scripture. Share some insights, questions, or points that strike you. Then read what follows.

the Lord in prayer

As we listen in on Jesus’ prayer, we too are swept up in his mission. Shortly after our passage, Jesus says, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (v. 20). Throughout the prayer, Jesus talks about the world and the place of his disciples in it. In verse 18, he says, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

The word mission is from the Latin missio, translating the Greek word group apostoleo/apostolos, meaning, “send/sent one.” This is the word Jesus uses in verse 18. Throughout the Bible, we see that God is a missionary God. God’s mission is to create and redeem. In the beginning of the Bible, God sends his Word and Spirit to make the world. In redemption, we see God again sending the Word made flesh—Jesus—and the Spirit. So we hear echoes of Genesis at the beginning of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1).

What is the church’s role in this mission? In their book The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch provide a succinct summary: “Mission is the practical demonstration, whether by speech or by action, of the glorious lordship of Jesus. It is where we get to create little foretastes of the kingdom of Jesus, which has come and is still yet to fully come.”

Jesus connects his mission to what he sends his followers to do (“As you sent me, so I have sent them” v. 18). One connection included in his prayer is sanctification. Jesus sanctifies himself so that the church “too may be truly sanctified” (v. 19). To be sanctified means to be devoted, or consecrated to a singular person or purpose. “Set apart” is a common paraphrase. One commentator writes, “The sanctification of Christians is a lifelong process. It involves separation from evil and growth in moral purity in attitudes, thoughts, and actions. This occurs in the truth, that is, as Christians believe, think, and live according to ‘the truth’ in relation to God, themselves, and the world.”1 Living devoted to Jesus in imitation of his sacrificial love can appear countercultural and surprising to the world.

1 Andreas Köstenberger, “John” in ESV Global Study Bible. Crossway, 2018.

  1. Take a few moments to discuss “mission.” Is it typical today to live out of a sense of mission?
  1. How would you describe the posture of Jesus toward the world in his prayer? What lessons can you draw from this?
  1. Jesus mentions sanctification before and after praying about mission (vv. 17-19). Why is sanctification important for being on mission?
  1. Reflect on verse 13. What does Jesus say about joy, and how can you apply his words together?

group application

We’re sent individually (“As you sent me”), and collectively (“I have sent them”). Brainstorm ways your community group could live out the joyful mission that Jesus prays for. What practical next step can you take together?

invitation to pray

Would you join us in praying for Redeemer West Side? You can use the following meditative prayer guide to reflect on God’s living word and to intercede on behalf of our church.

Tips for small groups:

  • Two volunteers can be the scripture readers.
  • The facilitator can read the silent reflection questions aloud and keep time (30–60 seconds).
  • During the prayer times after the 2nd reading, we encourage you to use the style of conversational prayer, which emphasizes listening and uses short prayers that build upon one another. Review the Conversational Prayer Guide together before you begin.

meditative prayer

Jeremiah 29:7 “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  
1st Reading: Read the Scripture aloud twice.
  • Silent reflection: What words or phrases stand out to you?
  • Share with the group: Take turns saying those words or phrases aloud.

2nd Reading: Read the Scripture aloud.
  • Silent reflections (30–60 seconds each):Based on these verses, how can you confidently and expectantly intercede on behalf of Redeemer West Side and our city?
  • Pray conversationally about these topics: 
    • This transition period of our church
    • Pastors, staff, lay leaders, congregants
    • Our next senior pastor
    • Redeemer’s future as part of God’s continued movement in the City

© 2024 Redeemer Presbyterian Church West Side

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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