“May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me” (John 17:21, hcsb).
All of us want to see more of our prayers answered, don’t we? That’s why we ought to be praying for more of the same things Jesus prayed for—because as John the apostle said, “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14–15, esv).
It can’t get much clearer than that, can it?
And one of those things Jesus prayed for was our oneness.
That’s something we can pray that is always according to His will—and that’s certain to receive an affirmative answer.
You’re probably well aware that not all Christians get along. Beyond the evidence you might see on television and in the media, you most likely see it within pockets of your own church, perhaps even among members of your family. But Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 is for an end to this kind of division. He prayed that His followers “may all be one, just as You, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (17:21a).
If this was our prayer too—that we would all be one in Him—we could expect to start seeing some changes in the tense situations around us. More importantly, if this was our prayer, we could expect to start seeing some changes inside our own hearts, where we ourselves may be part of the cause behind some of this disunity among brothers and sisters.
Whatever humility we might need to practice, He would help us do it. Whoever we might need to make amends with, He would help us do it. Wherever we might need to let go and say, “Hey, it’s fine, I sure don’t want to lose relationship with you over this,” He would help us do it.
Oneness is that important to Him.
And it should be that important to us.
That’s because there’s a clear motivation behind this prayer of Jesus. He gave us a biblical explanation for why it squares so firmly with His will. His reason for wanting us to live in authentic unity as believers is, as He said to the Father, “so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (17:21b). Or as He’d said shortly beforehand to the Twelve, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
At its heart, our failure to humble ourselves before one another, our failure to seek and maintain peace with one another, creates a muting of the message of the gospel. Not only does our lack of oneness grieve the heart of God—similarly to how we as parents grieve whenever our children are being hateful to each other—it also paints an unattractive, inaccurate picture of the gospel for all the world to see.
So let’s make this commitment right here and now: We do not carry offenses toward followers of Jesus. We absorb them. We let them go. No more disputing the details. No further questions.
And we pray that we would live in this unity, knowing we can confidently pray this in Jesus’ name, and knowing we can confidently expect an answer.
Heavenly Father, the wonder of Three-in-One unity that flows eternally from Your throne is so awesome to see in Scripture—and comforting too, knowing that Your oneness will never change. Lord, create in me a commitment to oneness among my brothers and sisters in Christ that is similarly unbreakable. I pray in Jesus’ name for the mending of broken relationships throughout Your Body. I pray in Jesus’ name for healing in my own heart as well, and for a fresh desire to pursue peace. May Your gospel shine clearly and brightly through me, with nothing to cloud or encumber it. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.