“Come here little sweetheart.”
I miss those words. It’s been awhile since I last heard them.
Grandpa has been in heaven for a full year. A year missing summer drives around our farm, a year of Father’s Days, birthdays, wedding anniversaries and Christmas. One of the things I miss the very most is that tender place to land. Because there is nothing, nothing, like the love of a grandparent.
Grandpa was a man with roots in the Netherlands which made his eyes a beautiful crystal blue, his work ethic strong, and family a prize to be cherished. While we miss the mints he would pass us, the bread he baked us, and the concern with which he listened, I miss the knowing, always knowing, that he was praying for me.
Morning by morning, Grandpa and Grandma would rise and read their Bibles, and then join their voices and pray earnestly for their family. The honor was ours the very last time we saw him, to send him off with a kiss and a prayer.
Perhaps only now, with us on this side of eternity and Grandpa on the other, can we say without any reservation, that the most loving thing we can do is pray.
Jesus knew this as well because the night before He died, having washed the disciples’ feet, He reclined and dined with them at the table. But He completes His time with His disciples with prayer. While there must have been one thousand things to say, including details outlining the plan from here, Jesus instead turns His eyes to heaven and prays for His followers and for us.
Someone’s final prayer seems to carry a little more weight, doesn’t it? It makes you lean forward and wonder what Jesus deemed the highest priority requests right before the cross. Jesus makes 5 requests that all loving parents and grandparents find themselves murmuring generations later.
Five Loving Requests (John 17)
- Keep them (v.11)
Matthew Henry says, “Keeping supposes danger.” One day on this spinning globe as a mother reminds us that being human is dangerous. Couple the daily danger of just living and breathing with an enemy who seeks to devour faith and we know that it requires God Himself to keep our loved one safe. The keeping that Jesus asks for is in His mighty and powerful Name, dependent not on our own strength, but the unchanging power in His matchless Name.
- Make them holy (v.17)
“Set them apart, Father, by your truth. Your word is truth.”
We know this cry as parents, don’t we? It’s the prayer of a loving parent who admits that our ability to control the behavior and thoughts of our children is small. In fact, it ends when they leave our presence, but the Word of the Lord goes with them into their futures. So, we cry out to the Lord to carve them out of this jagged world and fill their minds with the truth of His Word.
- Use them (v.20)
Jesus assumes that the ones He loves will be talking about Him when He leaves. He plans for it, prepares them for it, and commits them to prayer. Likewise, with spiritual eyes, as parents we gaze into the future in faith and pray not simply for their protection but extensively for their purpose. The task before them is as different as the personalities of those we love, but that purpose remains the same— to bring glory to the Father. (Isaiah 43:7)
- Make them one (v.21)
Jesus knew that in His absence we would need each other. The back biting and one-upping would be altogether out of place for those who bore His name. In fact, left to our own devices, we would surely devour each other in this dog-eat-dog world. But Jesus prays in love for the relationships of those He loves. Make them friends, Lord. Help them to serve one another. Keep them attentive of each other’s needs. Let them be wild extravagant love-ers of the family of God. That’s how the world will know they belong toYou.
“That the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
- Bring us back together (v.24)
It must be natural and right to want to be together with those we love. Together is Jesus’ last request in this Upper Room prayer and the heart cry of every generation departing and those left behind. Jesus asked for us. Jesus wants us in heaven. We hear that request off the lips of the mothers of prodigals and of mamas fading into eternity light. May our children believe, truly believe, so that Jesus will have them and goodbye is never goodbye.
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
Jesus ends this final prayer in love, whispers “Amen” and proves the extent of his love on the cross.
As I consider Grandpa’s legacy on my life, it will be one of love and prayer. They were never fancy, because Grandpa wasn’t fancy, but they were filled with faith, purpose, commission and love. As I consider the vast love and prayer of our Savior, I figure that’s the legacy Jesus was leaving us too- that of boundless, sacrificial love and of prayer.
Lee Nienhuis is an Area Coordinator from West Michigan and a Storyteller for Moms in Prayer International. She and her farmer-husband, Mike, have four terrific kids that make her need Jesus like she needs oxygen. Praying with Moms in Prayer has changed Lee’s faith in ways she can hardly find words for. Lee’s first book, Brave Moms, Brave Kids, released February 1, 2018 and you can find it available for purchase at all major retailers. Visit Lee’s website at BraveMomsBraveKids.com.