Have you ever been mentioned by name in a prayer? How does it make you feel? I can remember a couple times when someone prayed for me or my family or a request I voiced. It made me feel kind of self-conscious but at the same time honored. It felt like a hug from someone who cares about me. People like being prayed for. My dad, who was a chaplain in the Air Force, called his memoir Say One For Me, Chaplain because he heard that request so often.
In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays for his disciples and says, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” I’ve always thought that was pretty cool -- Jesus praying not only for the disciples, who are with him, but also for people in the future, like me. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for Mavis.” Put your name in there: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for _________________.”
He was praying not just for individual people like me and you, but for all of us in the future. Later in the passage he says, “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” And elsewhere the famous verse, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (John 3:16) He loves the whole world. So it could be something like, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for Mavis and ______________, and for all the people Mavis sends this email to, and everyone in the whole world -- past, present, and future.”
And what does he pray? That we may all be one with the trinity -- him, the Father, the Holy Spirit -- and each other, to see his glory, and to know his love. That is my prayer for you, too. Each time I send this email, and many times in between, I pray that you know God loves you.
Note: I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but I use masculine pronouns when talking about Jesus and God. The footnote on this website states my reasoning well. To paraphrase: Finding appropriate and inclusive language for God is difficult. It does not work perfectly to call the Father, "God," and the Son, "Jesus," because such language may imply that Jesus is not also "God the Son." On the other hand, the repetition of "Father" and "Son" too many times reinforces an inaccurate understanding of God as male and of divinity as masculine. The point of the language is not the mistaken idea of the maleness of God. It is the reality that the way to speak accurately of God is to use words that describe the intimate, loving relationship the trinity has, and that we have with Jesus and God. When Jesus calls God father and refers to himself as God's son, he is expressing that intimate, loving relationship.