“I am no longer in the world, and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:11-12)
Here we see something of the intercessory ministry of Jesus on behalf of the disciples whom He loved, which serves as a great example for our intercessions for our own loved ones:
— In :11 He asked His Father to “keep” His disciples in His name.
— In :12 He said that while He was with them, He “was keeping them in Your name.” This “keeping” he restated in the next phrase as that He “guarded” them, so that they did not perish.
So Jesus “guarded” His beloved disciples in prayer, “keeping” them from the evil one. He watched over their souls, calling upon the protection and power of His Heavenly Father to preserve them.
We need to realize that doing the same thing for our own loved ones is one of our most important ministry responsibilities. Do you have children, grandchildren, beloved friends or church members? Then like Jesus did here, “guard” them; “keep” them, in intercessory prayer. (This is a timely challenge for many of us who have young people who are moving to college this week!)
Jesus exemplified for us here the meaning of the last petition of the Model Prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In other words, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Rather than spending hours in agonizing prayer that God would deliver your loved one out of an evil and dangerous situation, how much better invest yourself beforehand in consistent intercessory prayer that “guards” and “keeps” them FROM temptation and evil in the first place — just as Jesus did for His disciples here?