Each year, I prepare a prayer for all of our RTS graduating students. I try to base the prayer primarily on a passage of Scripture. I want our graduates to know for certain that the things that I am praying for them are things that God wants for them, and says so in his word. Last year, for instance, I prayed from one of my favorite prayers of the Bible, Ephesians 3:14-19. This year, I settled on John 17:14-26, often known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is one of the profoundest prayers in all of Scripture.
As I was preparing to pray and record this prayer this morning on the campus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, I came across a beautiful reflection on John 17:24 by Dr. Scott Swain, President of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. He says:
All that the triune God has done in creation and redemption,
and all that the triune God will do in consummating all things,
are aimed at bringing those given by the Father to the Son
into the love of the Father for the Son.
Those words beautifully expound and complement the prayer I wanted to pray for our graduates. I often tell people that Christianity can be summed up in one sentence using the doctrine of the Trinity: “we come to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.” Scott’s brief words of reflection are a considerable improvement on my one sentence because they rightly reflect the Scriptural emphasis on the initiative of the triune God in bringing us to himself. So here’s a longer version of my one sentence “definition” of Christianity, taking this into consideration: “all that the triune God has done in creation and redemption, and all that he will do in bringing about the consummation of all things, are aimed at bringing those given by the Father to the Son, into the love of the Father for the Son, which we experience in coming to the Father by the Father’s drawing, through the Son whom the Father sent, by the Holy Spirit sent by the Father in the name of the Son.”
In light of this, here is my prayer for our beloved graduates, based on John 17:14-26.
Heavenly Father, through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, you have given these, our graduates, your word. They are not of the world, just as Jesus is not of the world, because of this, they will often know the rejection and opposition of the world.
I pray for them, as your Son did, not that you would take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. And that as they minister in and to the world, for the life of the world, they would not be of the world.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Father, as you sent your Son into the world, so your Son has sent them into the world.
As he consecrated himself that they might be sanctified in truth, may they consecrate themselves that many disciples may be sanctified in truth.
Grant them a unity and oneness of spirit, a sense of believing and loving solidarity with other Christians and Christian ministers, that their Christian unity might reflect the oneness of heart and life in the Father and the Son, so that the world may know that the Father sent his beloved Son, and that he loves his people even as he loves his Son.
In the end, when their journey is done, Father, grant your Son’s desire that they, because you have given them to Jesus, may be with Jesus, and see his glory, a glory that you have given him and which will be manifested to all, because you loved your Son before the foundation of the world.
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, your Son knows you, and these graduates, our friends, and now colleagues in ministry, as Jesus’ disciples, they know that you have sent your Son.
Jesus has made known to them your name, and will continue to make it known, that the love with which the Father has loved him may be in them, and Christ in them, the hope the glory.
By the grace of your Holy Spirit, may they spend all their days in trust in, witness to, and praise of you, the one true and living God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(based on John 17:14-26)