October 17, 2010

To Live is Christ — Abiding and praying

The Bible has lots to say about prayer, but perhaps the most meaningful passage in my mind is this promise from Jesus as recorded in John’s gospel.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:7–8)
“Abide” means to stay, remain, live in, dwell, endure. The verse is telling me to stick with Jesus, living in Him as my only place to dwell. This “abiding” cannot happen when I sin. As soon as I do, I step outside of Him.

So the whole idea of abiding in Him is about keeping my life clean. I cannot do that unless I am abiding, so the two go together. Forsaking sin and abiding in Christ keeps me out of trouble.

The verse also tells me that His words need to abide in me. That is, the Word of God must live in my heart and mind. It needs to be the foundation for my thoughts, words and actions. Of course, when I sin, His word is simple not there. I have ignored it or forgotten it or just disobeyed it. One thing I know is that I need His words to keep my life clean. It is as the psalmist says . . . 

How can a young man (or an older woman) cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9–11)
With those two “abidings” in place, Jesus then says I can ask God for whatever I want and He will do it for me! This is the key to having prayer answered all the time.

I don’t get all excited and think things like a mansion or a Porsche, because He has taught me a little bit about this abiding business. When I abide in Christ, then I am wanting things He wants. He isn’t into fancy houses or cars. When His word abides in me, I am praying His thoughts back to Him, and none of those are self-indulgent gimme prayers. Abiding is a change of where I live — not in my old sinful, selfish ways, but in a new place, in Christ.

Verse 8 adds a couple more strings to this “always get your prayers answered” promise. It is about more results — after the praying is done. I’m going to think about them tomorrow. For today, abiding gives my heart plenty to think about and aim toward.

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