"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those ..." (John 17:9)

"I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours." (John 17:9)

Who is Jesus praying for?

This part of Jesus' open prayer to the Supreme Being is focused on Jesus' followers. How do we know this? Because in the previous verse of Jesus' prayer, he said:
"For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me." (John 17:8)
So the "they" in this verse - is referring directly to those who have accepted Jesus' teachings and have believed that God sent Jesus.

So does this include those teachers and followers of most of today's sectarian institutions? Actually, no. Why not?

Because most of today's sectarian institutions are not accepting Jesus' teachings, and they do not accept that God sent Jesus (ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας).

They actually do not follow Jesus' teachings, because his teachings revolved around loving and serving the Supreme Being. These institutions teach that Jesus is the Supreme Being, so they have missed Jesus' entire mission and objective. Since they do not accept the individual existence of the Supreme Being they cannot love or serve God. Jesus specifies this exact situation in the following statement:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)
We can understand that the teachers and followers of many of today's sectarian organizations are being referred to here, because they are calling Jesus "Lord, Lord" as they teach ("prophesy") in Jesus' name and use Jesus' name to perform miracles and drive out demons. Yet Jesus is still denying these supposed followers. Why?
"but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
This means clearly that someone may be doing all these things in Jesus' name - preaching in church or going to church, doing bake sales, doing healings, going to far-off countries to preach about Jesus. But they still will be rejected by Jesus if they are not serving the Supreme Being ("does the will of my Father who is in heaven").

This clearly states that doing God's will means first accepting the individual existence of God - separate from Jesus' existence. To serve the Supreme Being - and do His will - we need to come to know the Supreme Being. Because in order to do someone's will we must know what that person wants us to do.

Who are 'those you have given me'?

Jesus is clearly stating to God - that he wants to help "those You have given me." What does this mean?

When a person reaches out to the Supreme Being and sincerely asks "please let me come to know You and love You." That person is guided to someone who is already knowing and loving the Supreme Being - someone who can introduce us to God. This is how God works. He sends His loving servants to the physical world to re-introduce those who want to come home to Him. Why?

Because God enjoys loving relationships, and He doesn't just introduce us to Him solely - He introduces us to the loving relationships that exist between Himself and His loving servants. 

These relationships give Him pleasure and they give His loving servants joy. God enjoys the exchange of loving relationships. This is why those loving servants such as Moses, David, and Jesus were so focused on asking us to come to love God. This is the highest form of loving service.

So when a person sincerely asks God to guide Him, God will direct that person to one of His loving servants. That loving servant will then teach the person about God. This is what Jesus is referring to when he says, "for they are Yours." Jesus is not claiming them. He is clarifying that by their sincerely reaching out to God, God has taken them under His wing and they are His.

Those students and disciples of Jesus that God directed to Jesus were under Jesus' tutelage. God had given Jesus those students to teach, and Jesus' service to God was to teach them.

And after Jesus left the planet, some of those students went on to teach others who were directed to them by God. This is how God's system works, and this system is identified even in the Old Testament with Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Samuel and David, and with John and Jesus and Jesus and his students. 

This is the teacher-student relationship system that God embraces and utilizes to help guide those who sincerely wish to return to their own loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

Why isn't Jesus 'praying for the world'?

Jesus isn't praying for everyone in the physical world. Why not? Because so many of us are not interested in coming to know the Supreme Being. Most of us are looking to be supreme. We want others to praise us. We want to be the CEO, the billionaire, the star, the boss. Even if Jesus did pray for us it wouldn't help most of us. We'd still be seeking our own self-centered goals.

These are all things related to the physical world, and our temporary physical bodies. They are not related to loving the Supreme Being or serving the Supreme Being.

Jesus addressed being concerned about our worldly things specifically:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.... So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Instead of sectarian institutions following and teaching these things - Jesus' teachings - many teach the very opposite. They actually focus on these things Jesus was teaching not to focus on. Their worries are focused upon how much money they make and what clothes they wear - beginning with their teachers, who will only teach when they receive a salary to teach and insist upon wearing special uniforms with certain types of collars to make sure that everyone gives them the proper respect. They ignore Jesus' statement:
"But seek first His kingdom..."
And when they teach, they teach about family life, about getting enough to eat, about being healthy and about making money. Many preachers will sometimes focus their whole sermons on using Jesus in order to become wealthier.

And we see their athletic followers praying in public before football games and before Olympic sports events. What are they praying for? They are praying to Jesus to help them win and help them avoid injury. And they make a big show of these prayers so everyone will respect that they are part of the "Jesus saves" club.

Rather than wanting to serve the Supreme Being, their focus is on winning. They spend their whole lives preparing (working out, education and so on) so that they can become famous and well-known and make lots of money. Their focus is upon fame, glory, reputation, money and the health of their temporary physical bodies.

Do they see Jesus as their servant?

When some of these institutional teachers pray out loud, they are positioning Jesus as their servant. They teach that we should pray to Jesus to heal us - or give us money - make sure we have a good job - make sure we win. Such prayers are usury. They are an attempt to use Jesus for self-serving purposes.

Isn't that what a servant would do? Fetch something or deliver on something?

These are part of the "world" that Jesus is not going to be praying for. The word "world" used in this statement comes from the Greek word κόσμος (kosmos). This word can mean "the world, the universe" according to the lexicon, but also "the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God" according to Thayer's lexicon.

Jesus is referring to the material world.

What makes us alienated from God?

Self-centeredness separates us from God. Being focused on ourselves rather than the Supreme Being and His children.

We must be clear - as Jesus is clear. Saying "I am saved" and "Praise Jesus" and healing in Jesus' name and so on has nothing to do with loving and serving the Supreme Being. This is made clear by Jesus in Matt. 7:21-23 above.

Jesus' primary teaching was not to claim to be saved. His primary teaching was not to ask Jesus to heal my leg or give me money.

It was:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37)
Love is an action word. It is not just sitting back and saying, "oh, I love God - I love God and I love baseball and my cat and hot dogs." Loving God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" means remaining focused on God. It means doing what God wants us to do. 

It means praising and glorifying God and giving credit to God. It means making offerings to God. It means seeking God throughout our activities and our lives. It means praying to God and asking Him to show us how we can serve Him and please Him.

And we can do all of these things in Jesus' name because this was what Jesus taught.

You see, Jesus has a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus is praying to God in this verse. He is involved in a loving relationship with God and he used his prayers to communicate with God within such a loving relationship.

We can also know by this that when we follow Jesus' teachings and we sincerely reach out to God in Jesus' name, Jesus will help us in this process. He will be helping plead our case on our behalf, as he states here (from the Lost Gospels of Jesus):
"I pray for them. I pray not for the material world, but for them You have entrusted to me, for they are Yours." (John 17:9)