This meeting was particularly special to me because I was a newly baptized Seventh-day Adventist Christian (the only one in my family), and was eager to share my new-found faith.
I had brought with me a stack of the wonderful book, called Steps to Christ, that I had hoped to give out. I wouldn’t really describe myself as shy, but I was hesitating and praying for the right opportunity to witness for my Savior. Not long after the prayer, one of my gregarious little nieces, probably about seven years old, happened to come over my way and saw the picture of Jesus on the front of the book. She took the book into her little hands and said, “Oh, this is Jesus! Jesus loves me and I love Jesus! Do you love Jesus?” I responded, “Yes, I do love Jesus,” and without hesitation she excitedly went around the whole group with the little book, sharing her faith and asking every one of them if they loved Jesus also. At the end of the day, there was no doubt my little niece felt loved by her Lord, and she loved sharing Him with others.
The Gospel of John chapter 17 contains Jesus’ most extensive recorded prayer. In verse twenty-three, Jesus prayed to His Father and ours and asked that the world may know two things: Firstly, that the world would know that the Father sent the Son, and secondly that the world would know that the Father loves the world as the Father loves the Son. The love between the Father and the Son is eternal and unchangeable. We, too, have been loved from the foundation of the world and there will always be a place in God’s heart for us. God so loved the world that He emptied out all of heaven in one gift for those that did not love Him!
But don’t miss the first half of the verse! I [Jesus] in them and You [Father] in Me, that they may be made perfect in one. This perfect oneness is to be the basis for the world believing that God sent His Son out of love for them! We just finished the General Conference 10 Days of Prayer here in Battle Creek on January 15, and I can tell you that prayer is one of the best things we can do to foster that solidarity among the body of Christ. During that time, we learned about one another’s deepest desires, struggles and requests; we poured out our hearts in prayer for one another; we leaned upon God’s unfailing promises together; and we praised Him together in fullness of spirit.
If ever the world needed to see the unity of God’s people, it is today. There are so many things that threaten to divide us, but prayer truly knits our hearts together as one. In closing, I just want to encourage you to be a part of your church’s local prayer meetings. Also, we hope you will join our Lake Union prayer emphasis in Indiana on March 11 and 12 where we will be studying more deeply the great prayer of Jesus in John 17.
Rob Benardo, senior pastor of the Battle Creek Tabernacle and Prayer coordinator for the Michigan Conference