Pray Like Jesus
The Prayer For Your Team
Two weeks ago we visited this verse, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail, and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Jesus prayed for Simon Peter then, in the last hours of his life on this earth. He prayed for Peter and all the apostles before he ever called them. Jesus “called his disciples to him.” He is calling, not just the Twelve, but a larger—probably much larger—group. We don’t know if the group is expecting Jesus to make this decision. Maybe they worried all night about whether they would be one of the Chosen Ones. Maybe they filled out applications or did interviews.
Jesus “chose twelve of them.” He could not choose all of them for this inner circle of associates. But he chose some of them even though this meant that others would not be chosen. Jesus wanted everyone to know that he loved them. He still went through with this selection process and created his inner circle of associates.
Jesus went further than this, of course. He chose three that he would pull aside in strategic moments: Peter, James, and John. Andrew, Peter’s brother, was not in this smaller group, and he must have felt left out. He was the one who recruited Peter. Why was this inner group not four instead of three, including Andrew? Jesus had his reasons, and he made his decision.
Jesus also designated Peter as the leader of the band. He made this selection as well. Jesus structured the apostolic team deliberately and through prayer. Despite its difficulties and the certain knowledge that they would debate the decision and second-guess him, arguing about who is the greatest, Jesus did it anyway.
Valentine’s Day is about “Valentine Be Mine.” Not just in romance but also in other areas of life we extend a similar invitation: “administrative assistant, be mine;” “financial planner, be mine.” “I want you to be my attorney, physician, consultant, counselor, coach, wedding planner, Best Man.” We are saying, “Be mine” for a variety of roles and relationships in our lives.
This is vital and important work, these people decisions.
Pray Over People Decisions:
“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray” (Luke 6:12).
Jesus' life will change now. That is why Jesus prayed about this selection process.
- He is bringing together a group of people who will be his inner circle. He will entrust to them the future of the gospel.
- These Twelve are very important people to Jesus.
- Jesus is going to pull them close. He is calling them so “that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). These Twelve will be his constant companions for the rest of his sojourn on this earth. Every time he turns around, he will see them standing there.
- These Twelve men are going to dramatically change Jesus’ life—how he experiences the journeys, the meetings, the mealtimes, and even their recreation.
These twelve will experience dramatic life change. They will look back often upon this moment, gathered before Jesus, hearing their names called, and making their way to front of the crowd to stand with Jesus.
- The teams you join will change the nature and even the course of your journey on this earth. You will uproot your family and move them to a new place. Your life is changing profoundly as you decide where to go to school, what residency program to choose, and what job offer to take.
- And the person extending that invitation to you should feel the weight of that decision.
- I knew when we called Tim Johnson to be our worship leader that this was life-changing for him and Mary Beth. I knew that they would leave behind dear friends and family members in order to answer this call. Yes, it changed our church for Tim to come here. And it changed your life to some degree. But it changed his life most of all.
- Jesus knew what the twelve were getting into better than they knew. Eleven of them would die violent deaths. James would be killed shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. Thomas would die in India. Peter would be crucified upside-down.
Pray all night. Jesus “spent the night in prayer”
- You may be a teacher, an attorney, an engineer, a scientist, or a physician. But I can predict that the most difficult part of your job, especially as you are promoted, will be personnel decisions.
- These decisions will keep you up at night. The best thing to do when you are struggling with personnel decisions is to pray just as Jesus did here. The decision may have weighed so heavily upon Jesus that he could not sleep. So he spent the night in prayer.
Pray For People Wisdom:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Wisdom to reflect the Father's heart.
- Jesus’ decision will affect people profoundly.
- He wants to be speaking in the context of the Father’s heart as he shares the news.
- This will always be true for you as well when you make personnel decisions.
- Francis Collins heads biomedical research for our government and the NIH. Was quoted this week in WSJ. Collins and my sister-in-law, Monica Justice, led two international genome projects: human and mouse. Both are committed Jesus people. Collins says there are two ways of knowing: Language of God is both science and faith, and both are essential for wisdom.
- The science of experience and education, facts, combined with the very presence of God in the room.
Wisdom to connect person to the team.
- Jesus is going to trust them with friendship and bring them into his inner circle. He is going to send them out to preach and to cast out demons. They are going to represent him.
- He has many potential candidates. But he seeks through prayer the wisdom to know who will function best on the inside.
- Strategic positions are not just about what a person knows. They are about who they are and how they fit in the team.
Wisdom to chose best rather than good. The book “Good to Great” pointed out this distinction.
Wisdom to trust God in the decision. We have to make these people decisions—which job will I take, which school will I attend, who will I hire, who will I go out with, who will I marry, who will be my business partner, will I join this team? God gives people-wisdom to those who ask him. So ask him for wisdom to evaluate, to understand, and to choose wisely. And then let’s ask for the wisdom to make the most of our decisions, to trust God in the process of team development.
Pray Over People Challenges:
“Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor” (Luke 6:16).
One of them is a devil. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” John 6:66-70.
- Did Jesus know he was choosing a devil? Well, this is early in the book of John. I think if he did not, it became evident quickly to him.
- Why not get rid of him? Jesus could have fired him instead of allowing him to stay in the team. Instead, he saw the divine purpose in Judas. I think he did not want to give up on Judas. He wanted to do all in his power to turn him back to faith.
One of them is always a devil. That is part of the teaching concerning Judas. If Jesus had a traitor in his small team, then you are likely to have one as well.
- A traitor is someone who has a different agenda. Judas could not get on board with Jesus as the Suffering Servant. He wanted Jesus to be like King David, ruling the world.
- A traitor is someone who decides to save himself when it looks like the leader is going down. Most traitors expect to end up on top, not on the bottom.
Entrust your team to God in prayer. Pray for those who are difficult. Exercise mercy as well as Justice.
Jesus chose you for his team. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” he told the disciples, and it is true for us as well. We have received the mercy and grace of God. And we are doing good when we extend this to others.