The prayers of a branch
“As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.” —Authorunknown
Prayer. Seems like it should be a simple enough topic. But just take a little sample of what people say about it:
· “God punishes us mildly by ignoring our prayers and severely by answering them.”—Richard J. Needham
· “When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing - nothing.” —Saint Francis of Assisi
· “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” —Søren Kierkegaard
· “Practical prayer is harder on the soles of your shoes than on the knees of your trousers.” —Austin O'Malley
· “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” —Frederick Douglass, escaped slave
· “Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish.” —Author unknown
· “When we talk to God, we're praying. When God talks to us, we're schizophrenic.” —Jane Wagner
Jesus had a lot to say about prayer, too. Thankfully, we can accept His words and His practice of prayer as truth. In John 15, as He finishes explaining the vine and the branches, He offers us another important facet of prayer to consider:
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”—John 15:7-8
In the context of everything that Jesus has just said about the vine and the branch, this passage is so much more than some sort of formula to get what we want—it's just so much deeper than that. Note the preconditions to answered prayer: “If you remain in me… if my words remain in you….” Jesus is talking about an intimacy that is so real that it appears our will becomes conformed to His—so much so, that anything we ask will be a reflection of who we are in Him and who He is in us. Isn't this the vine-and-branch relationship at its simplest, most profound level? If we are living our lives in the context of His love on this level, there will be joy, there will be sacrifice, there will be obedience… and whatever you pray, consider it YES, because you will be praying the right things!
True Vine, align my desires with Your will! I want to remain in You. I want Your Word to remain in me. I want my mind to be renewed and my life to be transformed so deeply that my prayers will be a natural reflection of Your will. I understand that this will require many things to be pruned from my life. I understand that this will stretch the boundaries of my comfort zone as You lead me and empower me for obedience to the Father’s glory.
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