Pray For Glory

John 17:1-5 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.


The entire chapter of John 17 is one long prayer of Jesus. It has four main parts. In the first part, vs.1-5 (our passage for this morning), Jesus prayed for Himself. In the second part, 6-19, Jesus prayed for His disciples. In His third petition, Jesus prayed for all His future followers (including you and me!). That’s in vs. 20-24. And finally, in vs.25-26 He finished His prayer by simply talking to His Father.

More importantly than the structure, however, is the content of the prayer. This is a remarkable chapter, with remarkable insight into the relationship between the Father and the Son—a fitting theme for Father’s Day. There is a great deal for us to learn and marvel at in our passage for this morning, Jesus’ first petition.

The big idea of this text/sermon is that Jesus’ first impulse regarding the challenge ahead of Him was prayer and His first prayer was for the glory of God and the first prayers of glory were rooted in eternality, authority, salvation, and fulfillment of mission. The main takeaway is to prayerfully seek Jesus’ heart in prayer.


Immediately after sharing His final instructions with His disciples (concerning His imminent suffering, death, and resurrection and their imminent persecution for carrying on His ministry), Jesus ______. If you didn’t already know the answer, how do you imagine that sentence ending? Performed a miracle? Shook the heavens? Set His eyes to the cross? Hugged them all? Rebuked His persecutors?

How does a sentence like that typically end for you? Once you’ve helped your kids or friends understand what God would have them do (particularly in a time of hardship), what do you usually do immediately after?

The answer for Jesus was prayer. Having spoken plainly about what was to come and what needed to be done about it, Jesus turned to His Father in prayer.

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said…

We’ll come to the content of Jesus’ prayer—what He said—in a few minutes. For now, let me simply remind you that prayer is the primary means by which God has determined to accomplish His purposes in His people. In a kind of glorious mystery, God often works His ways through the prayers of those who love Him.

Even more significantly than that, though, through prayer, we acknowledge God as God. We acknowledge our recognition of our dependence on God. Through prayer, God grants us the wisdom necessary to obey His Word. Through prayer, God grants us the necessary strength to obey His Word. Through prayer God communes with us and helps us to know that we are His and that His commands are good. Our prayers are a humble admission of all those things.

Jesus understood all of this and so, before He did anything else, He prayed.

As we move our way through (one of?) the most significant prayers of all time, I invite you to briefly consider Jesus’ earlier, familiar teaching on prayer (from Matthew 6:5-13).

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

From this short passage, I want to quickly point out a few (six) high-level prayer principles to shape how we listen and process Jesus’ prayer in John 17.

  1. Jesus said, “When you pray,” not “If you pray” (5, 7). Following Jesus, being a Christian, means that prayer is becoming your native tongue, your heart language. As God grows you in your faith, your prayer life will grow with it. Prayer is, perhaps, the most significant piece of evidence of genuine faith and true sanctification. In that way, any appearance of spiritual maturity is either confirmed or denied by your prayer life.
  2. Our prayers must never be to impress others (5-6). If we find ourselves in situations where pious prayers are esteemed, we must not pray seeking the esteem of others. In fact, when we find ourselves tempted in that way, we ought to pray in secret. For our prayers to be pleasing to God, they must be for the pleasure and reward of God and not any man.
  3. Our prayers are not magic words or the combination to a heavenly pad lock (7). Prayer is not about saying the right words in the right combination at the right time or in the right quantity in order to get God to do what you want Him too. God already knows everything you think and want, even better than you. In that way, the prayer that follows, the Lord’s Prayer, is not a magic prayer to pray over and over. In fact, maybe you noticed that Jesus didn’t say, “Pray this.” He said, “Pray like this”. The prayer Jesus prayed in the Matthew passage is an example of the kind of prayer that comes from the kind of heart that pleases God.
  4. God-honoring prayers are always godward in their orientation (9-10). Even when we pray for needs for ourselves or others, godly prayers are always godward first. Prayer is not a matter of tossing our desires up to the sky, hoping someone is there to hear. Prayer is a conversation with Someone in particular or it isn’t anything. And that particular Someone is the holy King of heaven and earth.
  5. God-honoring prayers are always aimed ultimately at God’s will (10-13). Every prayer we offer ought to be for some specific aspect of God’s will to be done. This is why it is right to primarily pray the Bible, since that is where the will of God is revealed. Be very careful of praying prayers that aren’t specifically informed by specific passages.
  6. Finally, God-honoring prayers flow out of a deep belief in the sovereignty of God (10-13). Prayer doesn’t work because God is very good or very wise or very strong or very interested in us. Prayer “works” because God is infinitely good, powerful, personal, and sovereign over all things. We live in His kingdom, according to His will, through His food, and by His grace.

In light of these Mathew 6:5-13 prayer principles, I want to invite you to do two things. First, keep them in mind as we work our way through Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Pay attention to the fact that Jesus prays as He charged His followers to pray. And second, take these principles and Jesus’ application of them in John 17 and ask the Spirit to help you pray increasingly like that. Make whatever adjustments are necessary to bring your prayer-life more in line with these things.


Jesus’ first response after giving His final instructions to His disciples in their time of need was to pray. We would do well to cultivate that as our initial response to everything as well.

But what do you imagine Jesus prayed for? If His first impulse was to pray, what was His first prayer impulse? Again, before we look to the text, let me ask you: In times of trial, what do your first prayers tend to be for? Help? Deliverance? Relief? Victory? Vindication? Courage? Perseverance? Wisdom?

All of those things are fine prayers in a certain sense and properly placed. But none of them were Jesus’ starting point. Prayer was Jesus’ first response and the glory of God was His first prayer.

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…”

Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him so that He could glorify the Father. Jesus prayed with a godward orientation, for the will of God, and in perfect hope in the sovereignty of the Father. Glorify Me so that I can best glorify you! What a sweet desire that is!

Before pressing further into Jesus’ prayer, would you consider joining Jesus in making that the ultimate aim of all your prayers?

God, heal Mark and Jennifer and Rosemary’s bodies, not as an end in itself, but so that they may glorify you.

God, let the Nelsons and Schannos adoptions go all the way through, not ultimately because they want another kid or even because it’s best for the kid, but so that they and their kids may glorify you.

God, help me get this job or into that college, not merely for the ability to provide, or for a sense of greater direction and encouragement, but above all so that I may glorify you.

God, let us find the right man, in the right way, to be our next Pastor of Discipleship, not primarily to make life easier for the elders and not even primarily to better equip us all for the work of ministry, but primarily so that we may more fully glorify you.

God, heal my hurting marriage or friendship or relationship, not just because it’s really hard to continue on like this, but above all so that I may glorify you.

If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, the chief end of our every prayer request must be the glory of God. Jesus models that for us in an awesome way in the opening line of His prayer. First and most, as His betrayal, trial, persecution, crucifixion, and death fast approached, and increased persecution for His followers with it, Jesus asked the Father to reveal His glory, so that Jesus might reveal the glory of the Father.

From there, Jesus’ prayer expanded on that initial request.

The Father Glorified Jesus

The thing Jesus desired most was the glory of the Father. The means by which He asked the Father to be glorified was through the Father glorifying Him. How and why did Jesus ask the Father to glorify Him?

  1. Glorify me since you gave me all authority (2a).

    1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh…

    Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him (Jesus) by making it known that He (the Father) had delegated authority over all mankind to Him (Jesus). Jesus had that authority before the world was made, to the point of His incarnation, and would be given it again at His resurrection (Matthew 28:18), and He would be glorified by the Father as the Father restored that and made it known to the world.
  2. Glorify me because you gave me the authority to give eternal life (2b).

    2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

    Jesus had come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), to save the world (John 3:17), to give eternal life to all who would receive it. And He was asking the Father to glorify Him by accepting His sacrifice for the sins of the world and allowing the world to know that He was the Savior.

    With that, we find yet another clear statement concerning one aspect of the salvation of mankind. There is more to our salvation than the fact that it is given by Jesus to those given to Him by the Father, but it’s not less than that. The Father and Son share sovereignty over salvation and in that the Father glorified Jesus.
  3. Glorify me because I accomplished all your purposes (4).

    4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

    In v.4 Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him because of His obedience. Like obedience is the joy of every parent, Jesus’ perfect obedience brought perfect pleasure to the Father. Consequently, Jesus longed for the Father to make that known to an unbelieving and skeptical world. As we saw last week, the central question for the Jews in Jesus’ day was whether or not Jesus really was from the Father. For Jesus to reveal the glory of the Father to the world, the world needed to recognize that He had indeed been sent by and had been perfectly obedient to the Father.
  4. Glorify me because we shared eternal glory (5).

    5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

    Before time, Jesus shared in the infinite glory of the Father (and Spirit). In His incarnation, Jesus emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), such that on earth, He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2).

    This gets at the very heart of Jesus’ request. Above all, He was asking the Father to glorify Him by allowing Him to atone for the sins of the world, rising from the dead, and ascending to His former place and glory. Jesus asked the Father to restore His eternal glory in His presence (after His ascension). By His ascension and the retelling of it for millennia, Jesus would be glorified on all the earth, even as by being seated at the Father’s right hand, Jesus would be glorified in all the heavens.

    Glorify me in this way, Father, so I may glorify you!

Because He had all authority to give eternal life, because He was perfectly obedient, even to the point of a forsaken death on the cross, because He’d set aside a measure of glory to obey the Father on earth, and because He would die for the sins of the world and return to the Father’s side, Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him. And, again, He did so ultimately so that He could best glorify the Father. Jesus asked the Father to make His (Jesus’) glory known so that He (Jesus) could make the Father’s glory known. And what glory it was!

Jesus Glorified the Father

If the Father granted Jesus’ requests to glorify Him in those ways and for those reasons, how would that help Jesus turn that glory back to the Father? Or, how would Jesus being glorified first, allow the Father to be glorified the most?

In simplest terms, it is the best golfer you know who is best able to help you appreciate the skill of the best golfer. If you have an uncle who regularly drives the ball 400 yards and breaks 70 from the tips on championship level courses, when he speaks of someone who is miles ahead of him, you are more impressed than if the esteem came from someone else. The more impressive of a golfer that your uncle is, the more impressive is the person he is impressed by.

It is the preacher that your favorite preacher points to, the scholar that your favorite scholar learns from, the woodworker that instructs master craftsman, that are most impressive.

If one of you came up to me and said that Betsy is the best piano player around, I’d be impressed. But if you told me that Betsy teaches Ginny and Emily, who are the best piano players I’ve ever heard, that’s far more impressive still.

In other words, it is by revealing the awesome glory of the Son that causes the Son’s testimony concerning the glory of the Father to be properly appreciated. With that in mind, imagine all the glory that we just saw in Jesus and then consider what that means about the glory of the Father.

How, then, did Jesus turn His Father-given/revealed glory to the Father’s glory? There are four ways revealed in this passage.

  1. Jesus was given authority and distributed eternal life (one level of glory), but He acknowledged that all authority, flesh, and life is the Father’s to give (greater glory still).

    2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

    Jesus glorified the Father by publicly and repeatedly letting the world know that whatever good was in Him or accomplished through Him (awesome teaching, miracles, and eternal life), it was entirely the result of the Father’s authorization. He did only what the Father had sent licensed Him to do. There’s one kind of glory in doing what Jesus did. There’s another kind of glory in being the one who Authorized it.
  2. Jesus gave eternal life (one level of glory) but He gave it only to those given to Him by the Father (greater glory still).

    2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

    There is a sense in which Jesus did not have the authority to give eternal life on His own. Likewise, there is a sense in which Jesus did not have the authority to determine who to give it to on His own. Both of those things belonged to the Father and by functioning perfectly in accordance with that, Jesus revealed the great glory of the Father.
  3. Jesus perfectly accomplished His mission (one level of glory), but it was the mission assigned to Him by the Father (greater glory still).

    3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

    It’s one thing to possess the wisdom, power, and character to do all that Jesus did. It’s another thing to be the one with the authority to assign Him those tasks. And it is another thing still to be able to establish the mission those tasks were meant to accomplish. Not only did Jesus glorify the Father by doing what He did on the Father’s authority, and doing it only with those whom the Father had authorized Him, but in addition, Jesus’ entire mission was that of the Father. He did only that which He was sent to do, and only for the purpose for which He was sent. And in that Jesus glorified the Father in awesome ways.
  4. Jesus had an eternal glory (one level of glory), but that eternal glory was the result of being eternally begotten from the glory of the Father (greater glory still).

    5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

    The main point for us to recognize here is that the glory Jesus’ possessed before His incarnation and was seeking to have restored (and expanded) after His final obedience on the cross and ascension back to heaven was beyond measure. It was and would soon be again, infinite! At the same time, it was a glory He had with and from the Father. It was a begotten glory. If Jesus’ glory is what it is, and it is a begotten glory, consider again what this says about the glory of the Begetter! Jesus glorified the Father by revealing this.

The Father glorified the Son so that the Son could glorify the Father by functioning only under the Father’s authority, among the people authorized by the Father, to accomplish the mission given by the Father, and all out of a glory eternally begotten from the Father. Awesome glory! and the heart of the beginning of Jesus’ prayer.


I want to close with a brief challenge from v.3. Remember, the ultimate purpose of this Gospel is “…that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” In the middle of all of this is a clear and concise statement on the nature of the life that is in Jesus’ name. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most significant statements in the entire Gospel.

If someone were to ask you to define eternal life, what would you say? For much of my life and for most of the people I talk to, eternal life is heaven and heaven is a place where everything you like and have lost on earth is present in the best possible way, and everything you don’t like is entirely absent. It’s that idea that led Piper to ask his famous question (in God is the Gospel, 15),

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

How does that question relate to your understanding of eternal life?

In a similar way, J.C. Ryle, in the book we’re giving you for Father’s Day (Holiness, p.268) wrote,

But alas, how little fit for heaven are many who talk of going to heaven, when they die, while they manifestly have no saving faith and no real acquaintance with Christ. You give Christ no honor here. You have no communion with Him. You do not love Him. Alas, what could you do in heaven? It would be no place for you. Its joys would be no joys for you. Its happiness would be a happiness into which you could not enter. Its employments would be a weariness and a burden to your heart. Oh, repent and change before it be too late!

This question (from Piper) and this observation (from Ryle) are rooted in Jesus’ definition of eternal life in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Eternal life is to know God, and Jesus Christ, His Son (along with the Spirit)—the godhead, the Holy Trinity. Knowing God apart from sin-distorted vision and sin-corrupted affections and sin-broken bodies is the very thing for which we were made and the only thing that can truly satisfy. The promise of that is greatest news of all time.

If you have a different picture of heaven, you can multiply your different picture by any number short of infinity and you will still be infinitely short of the true glories and goodness and gladness of the eternal life Jesus won for His people—knowing God, eternally, in all His glory, and with faculties perfectly sanctified to see and savor Him.

Does that sound like the heaven you are hoping for? If so, rejoice in this promise. If not, as Ryle says, “Repent and change before it be too late!”

And on this day, if there is one thing to celebrate in your earthly Father, it is that he has given himself to helping you, his kid, know that God is the gospel and eternal life is knowing Him and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Even if your earthly dad isn’t quite there, celebrate Father’s Day, knowing that you have a perfect Father in heaven who is.

Let us all give ourselves to praying fervently and consistently for this kind of glory in our own lives, in our families, in our church, and among all the people of God everywhere. That is the good news and eternal life Jesus came to accomplish for us.