“I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.” (John 17:13)

What would you pray for if you were facing a brutally painful, lin­gering death? Strength? Peace? The grace to endure it faithfully? Jesus prayed for his friends. He was con­cerned for what he had begun in their hearts. He wanted it to con­tinue and bear fruit until the day they were reunited with him. And guess what? He included us in his prayer. Us! With love and compas­sion, he asked his Father: “Keep them in your name. Protect them. Consecrate them.”

Keep them: Jesus asked his Father to hold you securely to him­self. He will do it! Your heavenly Father will never turn his back on you. He will never abandon you to whatever may come. No one can take you out of his hand. So talk to him about your dreams and hopes and fears, your strengths and weaknesses. Spend time in his presence listening for his voice.

Protect them: Jesus knows what can threaten the good work he has begun in you. And so he prayed particularly that the Father would shield you from those things. Amid trials and illness, setbacks and disappointment, God will defend your faith. He takes the offense for you, too, enabling your faith to grow and prosper, because it’s not just “your” faith, it’s his life in you. You can walk in freedom and confidence, because the Father does protect you. This evening, review today’s events. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where he protected you and helped you grow.

Consecrate them: To his prayers for our welfare, Jesus added another request. He asked that we would be set apart as holy and dedicated for a specific purpose. That’s for every one of us, not just the exception­ally talented, outgoing and naturally able ones. You are set apart! Your life here is not an accident. It is not pointless, useless, or meaningless. It is ordained, by God, for something only you can accomplish.

Jesus loves you and cares for you. Reread today’s gospel, and insert yourself where Jesus speaks of those whom the Father has given him. Then simply worship him for loving you so deeply.

“Thank you, Father, for your love and care! Holy Spirit, help me to grow in knowledge of God’s love, protection, and plans for me.”

Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 68:29-30,33-36