Explore the Bible Study: I Pray

9:07 PM

When a powdered drink mix is added to a bottle of water, it doesn’t quit being water, but it is transformed into something different and is used for a different purpose. When individuals receive Christ, His Spirit comes into them and transforms them and gives them a different purpose. But this transformation is not just for our own personal experience, but we are to, in turn, seek to transform our culture. Jesus prays for this kind of transformation as we will see in the Explore the Bible Study: I Pray.

We are “mixed” into a culture that needs to become new in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. This is why believers are left to live in this world after they make a commitment to follow Christ. We are transformed, and we are to seek to transform others through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But this isn’t an easy task. Jesus knew this and this is why, in John 17, He prays for His current and all future disciples.

John 17 also places Jesus approximately 48 hours away from death. He has spoken so much to His disciples, yet there was so much more He could have said. They have been told He is leaving, the Holy Spirit is coming, and they will face difficulties. They have taken in so much information.  Fortunately, He promised them that Holy Spirit would help them understand things more fully. But now, He turns His attention to offering up a prayer to the Father on their behalf.

Jesus first prays for Himself in John 17:1-5. He asked the Father to glorify Him so He would glorify the Father. Jesus wanted His coming crucifixion and resurrection to reveal God’s redemptive character marked by love and grace. Jesus also asked that His death and resurrection give undeniable evidence He was God’s Sent One.

Then, beginning in John 17:6, Jesus turns His attention to praying for His disciples. He says this to His Father regarding the disciples in John 17:6-8: 

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, because I have given them the words you gave me. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from you. They have believed that you sent me."

As Jesus continues to pray, we will see His desire and concern for all who are transformed by Christ, especially as they seek to transform the world in which they live. Jesus makes specific requests regarding what all disciples will face as they live these transformed lives. 

Just like the specific ingredients in powdered drink mixes that transform the water, there are specific ways in which Jesus transforms us. Jesus’ continued prayer reveals the ingredients that must be present in one who is in an authentic relationship with Christ.

Imagine your life is like that bottle of water. Read John 17:9-26 and consider what Jesus desires to “pour into you” so that you will be transformed. Prepare a list of things Jesus prayed to be “mixed” into the lives of believers so that they could be transformed and so that others might be transformed.

There are three broad areas in which Jesus focused His prayer – Protection, Sanctification, and Unity.


In what ways did Jesus pray for His disciples' protection? What did the disciples (do we as believers) need protection from, based on this passage and from our own personal experiences?

How did Jesus ask God to protect them?

There are multiples dangers the early believers and we face. Jesus points out some of those dangers when He prays that they avoid dissension among themselves, dangerous circumstances, and the demonic influences from the “evil one.” Notice that He prayed they would be protected by the name that God had given Jesus. Jesus was referring to God’s power with this statement. He and the Father were one and God Almighty could protect them from anything. This was demonstrated in how Jesus’ disciples were protected while He was with them except for Judas because he was really not a true disciple as Jesus pointed out during the Passover meal.

How can Jesus' words help you feel protected, knowing all the dangers you face in the world today?

Jesus also prayed for them to be sanctified.


Because the disciples would remain in the hostile environment, Jesus asked the Father to sanctify them. The term sanctify comes from the same root word as “holy.” Both words mean to be separate from the world and set apart for God.  The verb form indicates action that makes one holy or separate. It acknowledges dependence on the Father to do something we cannot do for ourselves. 

One way God sanctifies believers, is through His word which is truth. The world and the devil constantly try to deceive believers into disbelieving and, thus, disobeying God. To keep them from the evil one, Christ followers need to be set apart for God.

The Word reveals the mind of God. As you read the Word, you are led to set yourself apart for a particular ministry and for holy living. We can serve Him only as we know His Word and are obedient to it. 

2 Timothy 3:16 describes how the Word of truth sanctifies us: “All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Through its teaching, the Word shows us how to live and what to believe. By rebuking us, God, through His Word, charges us to “get back on the right path.” In correcting us, the Word shows us where we have sinned and missed the mark. Then the Word trains us for righteousness—it teaches us how not to fail in the same way again but to prosper in godliness. The goal is so that we may be complete (sanctified) and equipped for good works while in this world.

The disciples were not of the world because Jesus was not of the world. Even so, He sent them into the world. Their mission was not to embrace worldly lifestyles or values, but to share the transforming gospel of Christ. Jesus was sending them in the same manner as the Father had sent Him into the world. 

What kind of challenges do you face as you try to live in the world but not be a part of this world? What can believers count on if they choose to live by God’s Word?

Living in the world while not becoming like the world is difficult. When we strive to live according to standards and principles given in God’s Word, we may face criticism, be accused of many things, be looked down upon, be shunned, be fired from jobs, and so much more. This is why Jesus prayed not only for them to be sanctified but that they would be protected as their lives were transformed.

This leads to the final ingredient needed in a transformed life: Unity.


Think about the group you attend at church or others you know at your church. Did they all grow up in the community? What brought them to the church? What kind of job do they have? What hobbies do they enjoy? Does anyone in this group act or think exactly the same way?

This is the amazing miracle of Christ’s transforming power! People who are totally different from one another can be made completely one through the indwelling Christ. The word "completely" does not mean believers are united in every way. It simply reflects a fulfillment of purpose. We are unified through our relationship with God in Christ, as we surrender personal agendas to His greater mission of salvation. 

Jesus repeated the goal of Christian unity: that the world may know Him and experience His love and salvation. Through our loving relationships, we testify that Jesus is God’s Son. Believers receive the testimony that God loves us with the same perfect love He has for the Son. 

Is unity easier or harder today? 

If you don’t seek to be unified, what could this say about your personal relationship with Christ?

Considering your own life, the way you live, and the choices you make—How does your life reflect the oneness Jesus prayed for?

Are you willing to set aside those things that create disunity so your unity will reveal Christ and His love for the lost world?

Christian unity does not mean approval of all actions. Nor does it necessitate conformity or uniformity. It does require Christians to love one another in a way that honors our Lord, demonstrates His love within us, and demonstrates the powerful transforming redemption that takes place through salvation.

Jesus’ prayer for unity was done on the very night of His arrest; Jesus was thinking of and praying for them and for us. If we could remember this, it would make petty arguments, selfish agendas, or ugly disagreements seem less important.  We as believers honor Jesus when we behave in ways that show our unity with Him and with other believers.

Jesus was Praying for You!

Notice that Jesus was not just thinking about those early disciples as He prayed but was thinking about future believers. He was praying for us too! If we are saved, we are among those who believe in Christ through their word. Jesus looked down through the centuries and saw multitudes of people who would read the Scriptures, hear the apostles’ testimony about Jesus, and believe in Him. Jesus interceded for us that night, and He continues to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). He wants us to experience the same spiritual blessings that He voiced for the apostles.

Consider how you should respond to Jesus’ prayer? 

What do you need to do so that you can understand more fully what it means to be protected by God?

In what ways does your life demonstrate that you are continuing to be sanctified by the transforming power of God’s Word?

Do your attitude and actions toward other believers demonstrate a unity that proclaims the gospel to a lost world?

Consider what has to take place after you pour powdered drink mix into a bottle of water.  When you add powdered drink mix to a bottle of water, you have to shake it up. If you wait too long, the powder can settle to the bottom, and you have to shake it up again. Perhaps you were shaken up as you considered Jesus’ prayer today. Hopefully what you learned and considered will lead you to continue to live under the protection of Jesus’ through living a sanctified life that is demonstrated by the unity we have as believers.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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