This book is a Kregel Classics reprint of a classic book on Jesus’ high priestly prayer. The work was originally written in the 19th century by Rainsford, an Irish preacher who was a contemporary of D.L. Moody. In 1866 he was called to London where he remained and while there was a co-worker of Moody when Moody spoke in that city. Writing about his father, Rainsford’s son William said, “The evangelicals of the 19th century were the spiritual heirs (of Whitfield and Wesley). They too protested against the worldliness, ignorance and supineness of the national church, and when all preferment was denied them, they went outside Episcopal boundaries, preaching on the streets and in the cottages of the poor” (Introduction p. 27).
Rainsford proves to be an inspiring and insightful commentator, as one would expect in a book that has been declared a classic. However, this volume is not for the faint of heart as it runs to 450 pages. Reading it as I did over a period of weeks in conjunction with a weekly class was a great way to digest the material. There was little repetition as Rainsford covered a phrase or a sentence at a time.
His outline of the prayer is helpful. For example, as he discussed verse nine, he listed five pleadings on the grounds of which Jesus makes his prayer. This passage also indicates the well-organized mind from which his thoughts flowed. He is rarely difficult to follow. While Bible quotes remain in KJV, the language of the book’s text is modern.
What mighty pleadings are here! He pleads, the occasion – “The hour is come” (next day he was to die). He pleads his relationship, “Father, the hour is come.” He pleads His commission, “Thou hast given him power over all flash, that he should give eternal life to as many as God has given him.” He pleads His consecrated life, “I have glorified the on the earth,” “ I have manifested thy name.” He pleads His finished work, “I have finished the work would start gavest me to do… I have kept them in thy name;” I am now about to wash their sins away; glorify Thy Son by receiving my sacrifice; let the fire of accepting love come down upon the altar and the offering, and then, Father, “glorify thou me with thine own self, and with the glory which I had with thee before the world was…that thy Son also may glorify thee (p 148).”
Often Rainsford is absolutely eloquent. Take for example this passage commenting on the phrase, “that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” This passage also illustrates the passion with which Rainsford writes. Such ardor for God and for his Word is one reason he is so worth reading.
The Scripture must be fulfilled; every prediction infallibly accomplished, every promise carried out to the letter; every warning and every threatening fulfilled, according to the faithfulness and the sincerity of Him whose warning, whose threatening and whose Word it is. What can hinder? Is God not powerful enough to keep his word? Is he not faithful enough to keep his word? Where shall we go for a single example or instance where he failed to keep his word (p. 224)?
Those who take time to read this book will find their understanding of the Christian life, of the Trinity, of Jesus sacrifice for us, and of prayer itself greatly expanded. They will be enriched, edified and encouraged in their own Christian walk. We used it for the basis of a weekly prayer group study on John 17. I highly recommend this book.