"The Posture of Prayer:
:
A Life of Abiding"

Advocates
in
Prayer

 

 

Introduction

I'VE CHOSEN TO TITLE this series of teachings "Revitalizing Your Prayer Life" because I believe God wants to breathe new life into our prayers.  Prayer should never be dull and boring.  Rather, it should be spontaneous and fulfilling.  Just as communication is a natural result of healthy human relationships, prayer is the natural expression of our relationship with God.   Our prayer lives should be dynamic and exciting.

For many, prayer is not a daily discipline and is not even something they look forward to.  Prayer seems to them a religious duty -- something they know they should do but just don't seem to be interested in.  They see no practical benefit in prayer and feel it detracts from time that could be used more productively.  For others, prayer is a regular discipline but is not the high point of their day that it should be.  To them, prayer is more mechanical than dynamic.  That is, they apply biblical principles in prayer but fall short of seeing in prayer an avenue to an increasing awareness of God's presence and to a deeper intimacy with him.

I believe the Lord wants us to avoid both of these pitfalls.  Prayer is not impractical; it has great relevance to our daily lives and our fruitfulness in life.  Prayer is not mechanical; it is meant not just to secure the things for which we pray but to experience a deepening intimacy with the Lord.  Prayer is meant to be both practical and dynamic.

This teaching underscores the practical and dynamic aspects of prayer by demonstrating how prayer arises out of a living relationship with God through Christ.  Jesus talked about that vital, living relationship in John 15.  Using the analogy of a vine and its branches, He described the abiding relationship we must have with Him if we are to be quickened by His life within and live a life of fruitfulness.  As we will see, Jesus pointed out that abiding in Him and drawing our life from Him is indispensable to a powerful prayer life.

Our topic for this teaching is "The Posture of Prayer:  A Life of Abiding."  Using John 15:1-17 as our text, we will talk first about the life of abiding in Christ.  Then, we will see how these verses link our abiding relationship with Christ to the fruitfulness of our prayer lives.  We will present our discussion under two headings:

  • The Life of Abiding

  • The Prayer of Abiding

The Life of Abiding

All of life is about growth and development.  Growth by definition requires time.  There's no adolescence without childhood and no adulthood without puberty.  It's the same with life in the kingdom.  We cannot get ahead of God.  He has a divine order by which He is working in our lives.

God's divine order for our lives requires that we learn the fruitfulness of a life of abiding before we discover the power released through the prayer of abiding.  For that reason, Jesus' discourse in John 15 gives first priority to the importance of a life lived in communion with Him while adding a couple of references to the power of prayer that is born out of that communion.

In our text, Jesus described the relationship He has with His followers by comparing it with the relationship that a vine has with its branches.  With this analogy, Jesus got the attention of His hearers right away.  Several times in the Old Testament, God used the imagery of a vine as representative of the nation of Israel and as illustrative of the way He dealt with His covenant people.  (See Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15; 19:10; Hosea 10:1; and Psalm 80:8.)  

As we personalize the teaching of Jesus, we will see how this analogy of the vine and its branches depicts our relationship with God and helps us understand His dealings in our lives as He teaches us to abide in Christ.  We will discuss the life of abiding in Christ by addressing:

  1. The need for a life of abiding

  2. The means to a life of abiding

  3. The danger of not abiding

  4. The blessing of abiding

The Need for a Life of Abiding

The life of a Christian must be a life lived in vital connection with Christ.  It would be better to describe us not as followers of Christ but as appendages of Him, i.e., parts of His body vitally connected to Him and drawing our life and strength from Him.

Jesus found no better illustration of the believer's relationship to Him that that of the branches' relationship to the vine.  To better understand this analogy, let's consider a facts from the field of vintage.  

Vines were, and still are, grown throughout Palestine.  The planting of vines required great care.  Terraces had to be cleared of all rocks and debris.  Either trellises were used to support the vines or forked wooden sticks were planted in the soil about twelve feet apart to support the vine as it spread across the ground. [Barclay 1975:173]

A vine required a great deal of pruning.  It grew very quickly and had to be cut back drastically for the first three years so that it's life and energy would be maintained for fruit-bearing in the fourth year.  Pruning was meant to prevent the vine from bearing fruit until the fourth year so that it's grapes would be of a higher grade.  [Ibid., pp. 173-174]

Pruning was also necessary to maximize the fruitfulness of the branches.  There are two kinds of branches that grow from the vine:  those that are fruit-bearing and those that are useless wood.  The gardener would cut off fruitless branches so that they would not sap up the strength of the vine and draw that strength away from the branches that would effectively convert it into fruit.  [Ibid., p. 174]  As for the fruitless branches, they amount to so much dead wood that, if left alone, would harbor disease and decay.  [NIVBC; ref. John 15:2] Furthermore, even after this dead wood is cut off from the vine, it is useless for any constructive purpose.  It is was only fuel for a bonfire.  [Barclay, p. 174]

This background helps us better understand Jesus' emphasis upon our need to abide in Him.  There are three reasons we need to practice a life of abiding in Christ:

1.  A life of abiding in Christ prevents fruitlessness.  Jesus said in verse 4, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."   This verse makes it clear that we cannot live the Christian life through the power of self-determination.  In fact, WE cannot live the Christian life at all.  It is when Christ comes to live in us and to manifest His life through us that we are genuine followers of Jesus.  As the apostle Paul states, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."  (See Galatians 2:20a.)

A life of abiding is necessary because we must remain vitally connected to Christ if He is to live His life through us on a continual basis.  It is His life within us that manifests the fruit of His nature.  When we live outside of vital fellowship we Christ, all our lives produce is the works of the flesh -- character flaws that evidence our distance from God apart from Christ.  When we live the life of abiding in Him, His Spirit in our hearts produces the fruit of the Spirit.  As Paul states, " . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  (See Galatians 5:22.)  

Another aspect of Christian fruitfulness is effective ministry.  Our lives and ministries are to bring others to experience God's presence and power in their lives so that they come to know Him and learn to live in ongoing fellowship with Him.  Just as abiding in Christ is key to producing the fruit of the Spirit, it is also key to the fruitfulness of an effective ministry.  Paul described His spiritual partnership with Christ in ministry with these words:  " . . . I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."  (See Colossians 1:29.)

God desires to minister powerfully to others through us.  Whether that is through manifesting Christian character, meeting a practical need, offering an effective witness to the gospel, or helping someone experience divine healing or deliverance through prayer, our fruitfulness depends entirely upon our abiding in Christ.

 2.  A life of abiding in Christ assures pruning and cleansing.  It is the branches that are connected to the vine that are the object of the gardener's careful work of inspection and pruning.  Jesus said, " . . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."  (See verse 2b.)  God inspects our lives for the fruitfulness that proves we are vitally connected to His Son.  Where He finds fruitfulness, He gets busy pruning.

Pruning depicts God's work of sanctification in our lives.  That is, God is actively at work in us snipping away at every thought, attitude, desire, and tendency that does not reflect His nature.  To change the analogy, He is as a father who disciplines His children for their own good.  The apostle James says this about God's discipline of His children:  "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  (See James 3:17.)  God's discipline in our lives is painful pruning, but it is rewarding as it makes us more fruitful.

3.  A life of abiding in Christ maximizes fruitfulness.  Jesus said, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  (See verse 5b.)  Life in Christ is a growing relationship of increasing fruitfulness.  We are to go from "faith to faith" and from "glory to glory."  (See Romans 1:17 and 2 Corinthians 3:18.)  In like manner, our text emphasizes the need to go from bearing fruit to bearing more fruit to bearing much fruit.  (See verses 2 and 5.)

God is a God of increase.  He looks for greater returns upon His investments.  Everything He touches multiplies as the loaves and fishes multiplied in the hands of Jesus and His disciples.  He desires to cause the attributes of His nature to mature and expand in our lives.  He wants to demonstrate His grace and power through our ministries in ever increasing greatness.  In the chapter just prior to our text, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."  (See John 14:12.)  As branches abiding in the vine who is Christ, God desires greater fruitfulness of effective ministry from our lives that was evidenced in Jesus own ministry.  For that to happen, though, there is the need for an ongoing life of abiding in Him.

The Means to a Life of Abiding

We've talked about the need to abide in Christ.  It prevents us from being fruitless and assures that we are the objects of God's disciplinary work of pruning that will assure increased fruitfulness and gratification in our lives.  But how do we abide in Christ?  In our text, Jesus gave three exhortations to His disciples that enlighten us as to how we can abide in Christ.

1.  We abide in Christ through a life of love.  Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love."  (See verse 9.)  To abide in Christ is to abide in love.  Jesus' whole reason for coming into the world was to demonstrate God's redeeming love for fallen humanity.  (See John 3:16.)   Notice, though, that Jesus communicates here an important insight about love.  The love He received from the Father was the love He gave to His disciples.  Likewise, the love we receive from our communion with Christ is the love we are to share with each other.  The point is that we are not the manufacturers of the love that we are to give.  It is as we abide in Christ and are filled with His love that we can share the same with others.

I experienced this truth in a memorable way when I was a teen-ager.  A friend invited me to a mid-week service at his church.  At the invitation time, everyone present gathered around the altar for prayer.  During that prayer time, I was kneeling at the altar when I experienced the presence of God so tangibly that I was literally blown down.  It was like an invisible wind blew me forward and slightly to the left.  My chest fell upon the top of a small amplifier, but it felt like a soft cushion.  When I got home that night, I felt such a strong presence of love for everything I looked at -- the curtains, the kitchen counter, the refrigerator (not what was in it!).  Within a few moments, my mother walked from her bedroom into the kitchen in obvious pain and said, "Mark, please pray for me.  My head is killing me."  Without saying a word, I walked over to her and prayed silently as I did not want the sound of my voice to cut through the spiritual atmosphere I was feeling.  When I finished praying, she grabbed her head and said in surprise, "It's gone!  The pain is gone!"  I knew at once that what God imparted to me at the altar that night was released into my mother and brought instant healing from a painful headache.

In this instance, I was just a conduit through which God channeled his love in the form of healing virtue to my mother.  This illustrates Jesus' point very well, though.  It is only when we abide in Him that we receive from Him the love that we are to give to others -- love that will bear fruit through our lives and in the lives of those to whom we minister.

2.  We abide in Christ through a life of obedience.  Love for God is demonstrated through obedience to Him.  Jesus said, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."  (See verse 10.)

Since love does not originate with us but with God, we have to be taught how to love.  And, since love is proven through obedience, we have to be taught how to obey.  In this connection, Jesus again puts Himself forward as our model.  How are we to be obedient to the Lord Jesus?  In the same way that He was obedient to His Father.

In order to obey the Father, Jesus had to have ongoing communion with Him.  It was as the Father gave revelation of His will to the Son that the Son was in the position to obey Him.  Jesus said that He went only at His Father's initiative, spoke only what He heard from His Father, and did only what He saw His Father do.  (See John 8:42; 8:28; 14:10; 10:32.)  Because He was committed in love to His Father's plan, He received revelation of the Father's will.

I was reading a book recently about conversational prayer that strongly emphasized hearing from God when we pray.  The writer pointed out that sometimes people respond to statements about God speaking to His children when they prayer by saying things like, "I wish God would speak to me."  The writer raised a good question in response:  "Why should He?"  The point of the question is this:  Is your heart so committed to God in love that you would obey Him if He told you what He wanted you to do?  If love for God doesn't compel you to obey Him, why should He speak to you?  

If we love God, we will obey Him.  If He knows we have a heart to obey Him, He will speak to us and reveal His will.  This takes place through prayer.

3.  We abide in Christ through a life of prayer.  A regular prayer life is a means for maintaining communion with God through Christ.  It is this very communion we experience with God that assures the fruitfulness of our prayer lives.  Jesus said, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."  (See verse 7.)  The first part of this verse is about the life of abiding; the second part gives a guarantee of answered prayer.  For when our commitment is to live in fellowship with Christ, we will be motivated to ask for the things that are pleasing to Him and that deepen our relationship with Him.

The invitation to abide in Christ has strong positive reinforcement in the promise that those who so abide will experience a lifestyle of continuous answered prayer.  This positive reinforcement is intended.  Jesus invites us into the abundant life, and God's purpose is to so mature us in Christ that we will always ask for the things that He is pleased to give.  There is, however, another side to how God deals with His children.  If we are not inclined to embrace the blessing of abiding in Christ and experiencing a fruitful prayer life, then God in His mercy will warn us of the danger of losing our vital connection with Christ, our vine.

The Danger of Not Abiding

I do not believe it is God's desire to use fear to motivate people to love and worship Him.  His invitation to us is a gracious invitation to come and drink from His "river of delights."  (See Psalm 36:8.)  It is an invitation to "taste and see that the Lord is good."  (See Psalm 34:8a.)  However, because we were made for God's pleasure and He is the only one who can satisfy our deepest longing, it is God's love for us that moves Him to warn us of the dangers of drifting away from Him.

In our text, Jesus talked about the dangers of not abiding in Him.  There are four such dangers that we will mention briefly.

1.  There is the danger of a life cut off from Christ.  Speaking of His Father as the gardener, Jesus said, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit . . . ."  (See verse 2a.)  Christ is the only way to God.  He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  (See John 14:6.)  To be cut off from Christ, then, is to be cut off from God.  It is to be a restless wanderer and a vagabond like Cain who was driven from paradise.  It is to wander through life as in a barren wilderness like the generation of Israelites who were barred from the Promise Land.  A life cut off from Christ is a life of futility and emptiness.

2.  There is the danger of a life of fruitlessness.  Jesus' warns us with these words:  "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  (See verse 4.)  A basic need in life that everyone has is to discover God's plan for their life and fulfill the purpose for their existence.  When one feels the despair of seeing life slip through his fingers without discovering and fulfilling his purpose for being, we say he is having an existential crisis -- the crisis of a meaningless existence.  When we become disconnected from Christ, we lose sight of the  purpose for which He came into the world, i.e. to redeem fallen humanity.  To do so is to lose sight of our purpose, i.e. to co-labor with Christ in the task of bringing fallen humanity to receive God's gracious gift of forgiveness and acceptance with Him through Christ.  Without abiding in Christ, we cannot effectively bring others to Him.  We inevitably live in the existential crisis of a fruitless existence.

3.  There is the danger of a life of rejection and withering.  Jesus said, "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers . . . ."  (See verse 6a.)  The last thing God wants to do is reject His people.  He loves us with an everlasting love and gave His Son to die for our eternal redemption.  However, if we choose not to receive God's gift of life through Christ and abide in Him, we have chosen against God's will to be rejected by God.  We inherit a life severed, withered, discarded, rejected.

It has been my discovery that evangelicals talk a lot about rejection -- and with good cause.  We live in a society where more marriages end in divorce than stay intact.  Men and women seeking their own fulfillment at the expense of their mates go through life rejecting and being rejected.  Children feeling unloved and devalued rebel against authority and seek their identity through gangs, drugs, illicit sex, and even the occult.  Popular psychology dresses the wound by encouraging people to bolster their self-esteem by learning to be their own person and avoid all "co-dependent relationships."  Such a mentality would cause one to see the sense of a need to abide in Christ as being a sign of weakness.  In reality, the opposite is true.  It is neither parents, peers, nor rugged individualism that puts one in touch with himself.  Jesus alone is the way to God, and God alone is capable of loving us back to life.  That's why He warns us in love of the danger of not abiding in Christ.  

4.  There is the danger of a life consigned to the judgment of fire.  Jesus said of those branches that are thrown away and withered that "such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."  (See verse 6b.)  This is the strongest warning of all.  To live life apart from Christ, and therefore apart from God, is to choose eternal separation from God.  Not only does this lead to being a restless wanderer through this life.  It leads to eternal condemnation.  The Bible speaks of a literal, eternal hell which is described as "the lake of fire" -- the destiny of anyone whose name is not recorded in the book of life.  (See Revelation 20:14.)  Jesus said that those who refuse to cut off the source of sin in their lives will be cut off from God and will "go into hell, where the fire never goes out."  (See Mark 9:46-48.)  

There is vigorous debate in many Christian circles over whether one can lose his salvation or if his salvation is eternally secure.  I've read much on both perspectives and prefer not to take sides.  I do believe, however, that our present discussion makes it clear that it is Christians who are warned of the dangers of not abiding in Christ.  Jesus addressed this whole teaching to His disciples.  He was speaking to them when he said " . . . you are the branches."  We do well to take to heart His warning.

The Blessing of Abiding

The dire warnings Jesus gave in this teaching regarding the dangers of not abiding in Him are intended to create in us a reverential fear of God.  However, God does not desire to use negative motivation as a means of bringing us to do His will.  On the contrary, life in Christ is meant to be a life of blessing.  Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  (See John 10:10.)  

The benefits of abiding in Christ are exciting.  They provide strong positive motivation to live a life of connectedness with him.  There are four that our text suggests which we will comment upon here.

1.  There is the blessing of joy.  The one who abides in Christ is promised the joy of increasing fruitfulness in union with Christ.  Jesus said in verse 11:  "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  What is the basis for the Christian's joy?  It is that we have been united with Christ in death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation.  This is why Paul could write, "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus . . ." (see Ephesians 2:6) and that we ". . . reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ." (See Romans 5:16.)  This is why Jesus could say, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."  (See John 5:24.)  We have joy through our union with Christ because His victory over sin, death, and the judgment of God is our victory.  Because we are united through faith with God's beloved Son, nothing can separate us from the Father's love.

2.  There is the blessing of friendship with Christ.  After exhorting His disciples to love one another with the same sacrificial love that He demonstrated toward them, Jesus said to them, "You are my friends if you do what I command."  (See verse 14.)  Friendship with Jesus is not an ethereal concept.  It is meant to be a daily reality in our lives.  He lives in us by His Spirit, and He desires to have communion with us -- to walk with us, talk with us, and abide with us.  He beckons us to open our hearts to Him and accept His offer of friendship.  It was Christians whom Jesus addressed through John the Revelator with these words:  "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."  (See Revelation 3:20.)  The price tag for such friendship with Jesus is that we love one another as He has loved us.  It is a life of abiding in Christ.

3.  There is the blessing of partnership with God.  Partnership implies sharing life together around a common vision and purpose.  It signifies joint ownership in a common venture.  In our text, Jesus said to His disciples, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."  (See verse 15.)  The difference between a servant and a friend in this passage is like the difference between an employee and a partner in the company.  A servant or an employee work to discharge a duty.  A friend or partner offer a labor of love motivated by a commitment to the one with whom they work and a sense of ownership in the cause.  Because we are one with Christ, we are given the blessing of being in partnership with God in His work of redemption in the earth.  We have been redeemed and given eternal life.  We now offer a labor of love in sharing the good news of the gospel with others because we have taken ownership of the task of fulfilling the Great Commission.

4.  There is the blessing of answered prayer.  Jesus has shown us the "secret" of answered prayer.  It is not simply a matter of learning biblical principles about prayer and applying them in our prayer lives.  That would be a mechanical approach to prayer.  Rather, answered prayer is born of knowing Christ, loving God, and taking ownership in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  The secret is, in a word, abiding in Christ.  Jesus said in verse 7, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."  As if to further explain, Jesus said in verse 16, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."  When our heart is committed to God and to His purposes, our requests in prayer will never run counter to His desires for us or for those for whom we pray.  God will be pleased to answer our prayers, and we will discover a life of continuous answered prayer.

The Prayer of Abiding

This teaching puts prayer in a whole new perspective.  We could say that in John 15 Jesus teaches us about the life that prays.  If our life is a prayer, what is that prayer saying?  Jesus' answer is simply this:  If our lives reflect an abiding relationship with Him, then our prayers will reflect the same.  A life of abiding produces prayers of abiding.

What does the life that prays look like.  Jesus provides us with six snapshots.  We will list them here with a brief comment on each.

SNAPSHOT ONE:  The prayer of a worshipper.  Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."  (See verse 9.)  To remain in the love of Jesus is to worship Him -- and the Father through Him.  Our prayer lives should reflect love for God.  Our prayers offer worship to Him.

SNAPSHOT TWO:  The prayer of an obedient servant.  Jesus said, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."  (See verse 10.)  To love God is to obey Him.  Prayer is about inviting God to work in us to will according to His desires and to do according to His purposes.  (See Philippians 2:13.) Prayer may often be a means of ascertaining God's will as He will speak to us in our times of prayer.  Prayer should always be a means of submitting ourselves to God to fulfill His will.  Our prayers offer obedience to Him.

SNAPSHOT THREE:  The prayer of a fruitful branch.  Jesus said, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  (See verse 5.)  Every believer desires to bear the fruit of godly character and of a productive ministry.  No one sets out in the Christian life expecting a life of spiritual barrenness and futility.  But, Scripture is clear that the Christian life must be a walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh -- a life empowered by grace and not dictated by law.  We receive the fullness of the Spirit and the empowerment of grace by requesting it of God through prayer.  In turn, our prayer lives will reflect hearts that are filled with the Spirit and empowered by grace.  Our prayers will reflect the gratitude of lives that are fruitful and fulfilled.

SNAPSHOT FOUR:  The prayer of a God-fearer.  Jesus said, "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." (See verse 6.)  It is a fearful thing not to abide in Christ.  It is to literally throw away one's life.  And wood that does not bear fruit is useful only as firewood.  The fearful prospect of a life withered and burned, fruitless and discarded, should move us to consistency in our prayer lives.  While it should not be the predominant motivation for prayer, the fear of God should move us to stay close to Him through a consistent prayer life.

SNAPSHOT FIVE:  The prayer of a friend of God.  Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."  (See verse 15.)  We don't come to God as slaves in His employ but as friends in partnership with Him.  Prayer becomes the opportunity to express our gratitude to God for His redeeming grace in our lives and to take ownership with Him in the work of redemption.   Prayer is offered in the spirit of partnership and friendship with God.

SNAPSHOT SIX:  The prayer of a joyful believer.  As we saw earlier, the one who abides in Christ is promised the joy of increasing fruitfulness in union with Him.  After exhorting His disciples to love one another as He had loved them, Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  (See verse 11.)  When we receive the gift of God's love through Christ by which He has redeemed us, and when we take ownership of the Great Commission as an expression of our love for God and for others, our prayers are answered and our joy is made full.  Jesus said elsewhere, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."  (See John 16:24.)   The prayer of abiding is the prayer of a joyful believer.

Conclusion

God desires that our prayer lives be dynamic and exciting.  He wants us to know the joy of continuous answered prayer rather than experiencing prayer as a spiritual discipline that we commit to out of a sense of obligation.

For prayer to be dynamic and exciting, it must be an integral part of our lives and not just an activity that we perform.  It is appropriate that we speak of a "prayer life."  What God desires for us is a life that prays.

Jesus taught about a life that prays by teaching us about the life of abiding in Him that produces effective prayers born out of that abiding relationship.  Using the analogy of a vine and its branches -- the vine being Jesus and the branches His faithful followers -- Jesus helps us see how a life of abiding naturally leads to prayers of abiding.

Jesus had several things to say about the life of abiding.  He spoke of our need to abide in Him.  Such abiding prevents a fruitless life, assures the cutting away of "dead wood" in our lives, and leads us to ever increasing fruitfulness in Christian character and effective ministry.  Jesus spoke of the means by which we abide in Him.  We abide in Him through a life of worship born out of love for Him, a life of obedience reflecting in keeping His commands, and a life of prayer by which we draw near to Him.  Jesus spoke of the danger of not abiding in Him.  When we choose to neglect our relationship with God through Christ and go our own way, we experience a life cut off from Christ, fruitless, rejected, and consigned to the judgment of fire.  Finally, Jesus spoke of the blessing of abiding in Him.  We experience the joy of increased fruitfulness, friendship with Christ, partnership with God in His work of redemption, and a life of continuous answered prayer.

From these lessons about the life of abiding, we can list several descriptive terms that serve as snapshots depicting the prayer of abiding.  The prayer of abiding is the prayer of a worshipper of God, an obedient servant, a fruitful branch, a God-fearer, a friend of God, and a joyful believer.  These snapshots of the prayer of abiding are each pictures of what God wants our prayer lives to look like.

As we choose a life of abiding in Christ, we will experience the joy of a rewarding prayer life in partnership with God.  Our prayers will become the means by which God fulfills His redemptive work in the earth.  For us, this means the gratification of being divinely informed and directed in prayer and the joy of experiencing continual answered prayer.

 

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