Saturday, March 17, 2007

Day Nineteen: The Implications of the Promise, Part III

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).

The third implication I see from John 15:7-8 is this: in light of the facts that answered prayer is the fruit of the vine, and that therefore without prayer we cannot bear the fruit of the vine, we ought to passionately commit ourselves to making a life of prayer. We ought to wake in prayer and ready ourselves in prayer and read the word of God in prayer and eat in prayer and drive in prayer and labor in prayer and serve others in prayer and suffer in prayer and rejoice in prayer and take our rest in prayer. And as a church, we ought to proclaim the word of God in prayer and seek the lost in prayer and do missions in prayer and minister to the needs of people in prayer and structure in prayer and raise money in prayer and build buildings in prayer. We ought to pray morning, noon, and night about anything and everything. We ought to pray as often as we breathe.

Consider the following passages, noting especially the strength of the words that call us to prayer: “And they [the early believers] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (Acts 2:42, Colossians 4:2, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Devote, continue steadfastly, pray in everything, pray without ceasing: brothers and sisters, the language calling us to a life prayer could not be stronger in these few verses, and the implications of the fact that we cannot bear the fruit of the vine without prayer could not be more serious. Thus I will say it again, we ought to heed the words of God and passionately commit ourselves to making a life of prayer. We ought to pray as often as we breathe.

And as with our commitment to the word of God, we need both habits of prayer and passion for God in prayer. First of all, we must develop regular habits of prayer because prayer is one of the primary, tangible expressions of the fact that we are utterly dependent upon Christ. As the branch cannot survive and thrive without the nutrients of the vine, the Christian cannot survive and thrive without drawing on the resources of Christ in prayer. The branch does not take a day off from seeking the life of the vine, and we can never rest from pursuing the life of Christ.

But prayer is more than an activity designed to draw on the life of Christ, it is the primary means by which we express our love and passion and devotion and thankfulness to the Father. As we abide in Christ and his words abide in us, our love for him grows and we express that love to him by prayer. The true believer does more than make requests of God in prayer; he also interacts and relates with and expresses the totality of his passions to the Father in prayer.

So, we need to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus by disciplining ourselves to pray without ceasing. And we also need to ever grow in our passion for Christ so that our prayers will be shot through with life and light and fervency.

Prayer Focus: Pray that God the Father will make us fruitful branches by making us prayerful branches. Pray that he will teach us to “pray without ceasing,” and thereby cause us to bear 30- and 60- and 100-fold for the glory of his name.

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