It had already been a fascinating evening. During the Passover meal, Jesus had washed His disciples’ feet in a stunning display of the Master being the servant. And then there was the revelation that one of the Twelve (who were all gathered around the table) would betray Him. Jesus also laid out the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, the bread and wine hinting at what the next day held in store for His body and blood. After the meal, before they left the upper room and sang hymns on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did perhaps the most remarkable thing of all. Knowing that He’s about to face beatings, humiliation, scourging, and crucifixion, in John 17 we find Jesus taking the time to stop and pray for His disciples. And not just for those with Him that night in Jerusalem. He makes it clear that He was praying for all of His disciples, including you and me here in the twenty-first century. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20, NIV).
Praying for others. What a sweet Savior we have. It takes my breath away to think about Him praying for us. The God of the universe praying on behalf of His creatures. The act in itself should make us fall to the ground in wonder and overwhelmedness. The fact that He takes the time to name us and record it in Scripture to make sure we see it? Glory overload!
Jesus interceding for us and telling us He’s doing so is both an eternal love letter to us His followers and an instruction manual. Here we learn and are ever reminded of what Jesus wants for us: protection; unity with God; unity with all other believers; His joy within us; sanctification; to eventually be with Him and see His full glory; and love. This love letter turns into an instruction manual as we begin to view Jesus’ actions as a model for our own actions. We get to intercede for others just as Jesus intercedes for us. We get to go before God and say, just as Jesus does, “I pray for them…for those you have given me” (John 17:9, NIV).
I’ve come to realize that praying for another does not just bless the person for whom we are praying. The same goes for when I ask others to pray for me—it blesses me, and it creates opportunities for others to be blessed and opportunities for more people to glorify and thank God. See 2 Corinthians 1:11.
The most profound moments in my life have involved me interceding on someone’s behalf or someone interceding on my behalf. I could recount both long and short seasons of intercession revolving around physical health, mental health, spiritual awakening, and protection. I’ve beheld miracles and broken chains and victories, all of them forging a deeper faith in me—an innate knowing that God can do anything, He is sovereign, He is trustworthy, and He is good.
Though maybe not as dramatic as some encounters with intercession I’ve been a part of, one stands out as particularly affecting the shape of my faith. I was a freshman in college, thousands of miles from home. On the first day of the first semester, I had two classes back to back. This prevented me from getting to the second class early. After running across campus and then up an ornate oak staircase, I found my second classroom right before the class was about to start. I was trying not to show that I was out of breath and sweating (in contrast to the room full of perfectly-coiffed Southern belles over whom humidity seemed to hold no power), and my heart skipped a beat as I saw that the room was full. I didn’t see any open seats. And to make matters worse, I immediately noticed that this room was furnished with old-fashioned one-piece wooden “desks” which are really chairs with a tiny ledge on the side. These are the things nightmares are made of for left-handers like me!
So I’m sweating. My heart is pounding from nerves and my recent cross-country sprint. I’m prepared to be a contortionist for the next ninety minutes, that is if I find a desk at all and am not relegated to standing. And then…across the room by the windows, a light shone in past the flickering boughs of the magnolia trees outside and illuminated an empty desk. A beautiful lone empty LEFT-HANDED desk. A peace flowed over my body like I had never known.
Later that evening I called my mom to tell her how my first day of classes went. I told her the tale of the beautiful lone empty left-handed desk, and she told me that she had been praying for me.
We both marveled over how God provided. It may seem simple or trivial, but that desk changed my life. It set me on a course to see God’s hand in everything, and to seek and trust Him for every little and big thing, knowing that He is over and cares about it all. Because He cares about me. He cares about us. We know this, too, from the list of good things Jesus prayed for us in John 17.
To this day, my mom and I use the phrase, “God is in the desk business.” It’s become a life motto, a nod to our mutual recognition that the world is the Lord’s and everything in it.
Go ahead, follow the leader: intercede like Jesus did. God wants us to see Him and seek Him in everything for others. And to ask others to seek Him for us.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…”
(1 Timothy 2:1, NIV)
“…pray for each other…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”
(James 5:16, NIV)
Destiny Teasley lives in Nevada, where she is a lover of the arts, pop culture, and travel (you'll often find her daydreaming about being in Israel or Disneyland). She delights in encountering beauty in the world and helping others to see and celebrate it for themselves. Destiny studied at Baylor, UNLV, Oxford, and Dallas Theological Seminary. You can find more of her writing at her blog,whentherockscryout.com .