The Prayer of Jesus for His Disciples
[Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John] stands alone, and there is nothing like it. A few introductory remarks will not be out of place.
Henry remarks that this was a prayer after sermon, a prayer after sacrament, a family prayer, a parting prayer, a prayer before a sacrifice, a prayer that was a specimen of Christ's intercession.
We have here the only long prayer of the Lord Jesus, which the Holy Ghost has thought good to record for our learning. That He often prayed we know well; but this is the only prayer reported.
We have many of His sermons, parables, and conversation, but only this prayer.
We have here the prayer of one who spoke as never man spoke, and prayed as never man prayed--the prayer of the second Person in the Trinity to the Father; the prayer of one whose office it is, as our High Priest, to make intercession for His people.
We have a prayer offered up by the Lord Jesus on an especially interesting occasion: just after the Lord's Supper, just after a most striking discourse, just before His betrayal and crucifixion, just before the disciples forsook Him and fled, and just at the end of His earthly ministry. We have here a prayer that is singularly full of deep and profound expressions; so deep, indeed, that we have no line to [fathom] them. The wisest Christian will always confess that there are things here that he cannot fully explain. The Bible reader who attaches no weight to such considerations as these must be in a very strange state of mind.
J.C. Ryle (1977 reprint) Ryle's Expository Thoughts onthe Gospels - John - Vol. 4 Baker House, USA. Chapter 17, pg 170
Next follows a chapter which one may perhaps characterise truly as unequalled for depth and scope in all the Scriptures. Holiness, devotedness, truth, love, glory reign throughout. Who can wonder, seeing that it is unique in this respect, as it is the Son opening His heart to the Father when just about to die and leave His own for heaven? Yet, profoundly interesting and momentous as the case was, it is the Son addressing Him thus which is so wondrous a privilege for us to hear. But all this may well fill our hearts with the sense of utter insufficiency to speak of such communications suitably. Nevertheless, as the Saviour uttered all within the hearing of the disciples, so the Holy Spirit has been pleased to reproduce His words with Divine precision.310 They are therefore for us now, as then for His favoured followers. Encouraged by this grace, we would count on the Lord's real and living interest in us, and on His faithfulness Who still abides with us to glorify Him by taking of His things and showing them to us.
William Kelly - Part 3 of An Exposition of the Gospel of John