Jesus’ Prayer for His Disciples

The great Scottish Bible expositor Alexander MacLaren, once wrote: ‘We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key to the treasure chest into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the vault of a bank told to help himself, and com … More


This passage constitutes the beautiful prayer of our Lord for these eleven men. It divides into three sections (vv. 9-19):

  1. He prays for them because they belong to Him (vv. 9-10). These disciples are His. They are a gift from the Father. He has spent 3-1/2 years with them. He knows them intimately.
  2. He prays that they may be kept from the enemy, from the world and the devil (vv. 11-16). He desires for them to be guarded and kept by the Father’s authority and by His activity. “Keep them,” He prays, “in Thy name” (v. 12). He is asking God to assume responsibility now for these men directly so that while He is personally absent from them they may be kept.
  3. He prays that they may be sanctified (vv. 17-19). What does “sanctification” mean? It means to separate or set apart, to a specific purpose. You sanctify the pews as you sit in them. You sanctify your car as you drive it. I sanctify my comb when I comb my hair – I use it for its intended purpose. And what are we intended for? What purpose did God have in mind in making man? In this context it includes a sense of personal agreement, a determination, a willingness to do it. Thus we could use the word “commitment.”

It is not enough merely to study the Bible and learn a great deal of doctrinal truth. We must also love Jesus Christ. Learning and loving should lead to living. Christ’s prayer in this passage was particularly for the eleven though it can apply to all believers. He was not praying for the world but for the disciples’ protection (v.11) and sanctification (v.17). This does not mean that Christ is unconcerned about the lost. It was just that He knew that He would soon depart to the Father and the disciples had to stay in this world to carry out His plan. The Word gives us joy, love, and power to live a holy life (vv. 18-19). It also gives us what we need to serve Him as witnesses in this world.


It is not enough to just study the Bible and learn a lot of doctrinal truth. I need to also love Jesus more as I learn, then learning and loving should lead to living. Is this happening in my life?

John 17:9-19 (English Standard Version)

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