Joh 17:15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
This verse for years made me ask myself questions. We live in a fallen world full of evil, pain and suffering, we long to be lifted out of it and go to be with Jesus. Here, the One we want to go to be with is praying a different kind of prayer. He is asking His Father not take believers out of the world, but to keep them here, only from the wicked one.
It’s already clear in John 14 that Jesus went to prepare a place for His people then come back for them. So this prayer is not for denial but delay. Jesus had much work in this world for believers. He said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mat 5:16), that is proclaiming and living for His glory. Our delay is for the purpose of serving God before men that they may be moved to come, love and serve God likewise. Our presence also benefits our families’ faith and joy. Paul being torn between going to be with the Lord or staying behind had this to say “24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith…” (Phi 1:24-25). Paul recognized that his presence would be for their comfort, edification, instruction which would lead to increase in their faith and joy. It is ok to pray for long life if it’s primarily (1) for the honor of His own name. (2) for the good of family and Christians themselves; (3) for the benefit of the world.