Memory Verse Challenge (Week 7) – Prayer (John 15:7)
by Dave Kroeze, Director of Outreach @MBCLouduon
John 15:7 (ESV) – “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
How many of us have fallen into the trap of using prayer as a means of “testing” God? I definitely have. I was not blessed with the studious gene, though I am naturally good at school. I went into college convinced and optimistic that I would graduate with a 4.0 and blew it in my first course on campus. Ironically enough, that class was Systematic Theology. There I was, sitting in a class, working through material that I was convinced I already knew. I knew everything there was to know about theology because I was born and raised in a Christian home and went to Sunday School each week. I skimmed the books, showed up for our first test, and didn’t know any of it. Instinctively, I begin intrinsically crying out to the Lord, just help me get through this test and I’ll work the rest of the way through to get that 4.0. I have no doubt that you can guess what happened. I did not get an A in that class; I didn’t even get a B.
Read John 15:1-11. This week, you will be memorizing John 15:7. Jesus said to his disciples “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This verse is a conditional statement, where the condition is “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you.” What does this word, Abide, really mean? If you look it up in a dictionary, you will generally see a definition that looks like “to remain, to stay, or to continue.” These definitions do not sniff the depth that Christ was getting at. The branches cannot live apart from the vine. Warren Wiersbe describes it this way: “It means to keep in fellowship with Christ so that his life can work in and through us to produce fruit.” What is a branch without the vine? A twig or a stick. The branch’s identity is completely tied to its intimate dependence on the vine.
If we abide in Christ, and His words are in us, changing us, molding us, shaping us so that we look more like Him, we will be asking for things that Christ asks for. We will pray boldly for Christ’s intervention on behalf of this world. Take a moment and briefly think about your prayer life. If you were to describe it in one word, what word would you choose? Vibrant? Foundational? Non-existent? Self-absorbed? Minimalistic?
As recently as a year ago, my prayer life would be summed up in the words at the end of the list. As you saw in my story at the beginning, my prayers in college were focused around my own, personal accomplishments and born out of a sense of entitlement. At the beginning of this year, a fellow staff member challenged me to develop a prayer life that emulated what I wanted my relationship with Christ to look like. I pray about myself, and that’s when I even prayed at all. My best friend lives in Chicago and I get to chat with him fairly often. We are definitely not growing closer together, though when we go a week without talking. We are not connected. If we are disconnected from Christ, how will our hearts look like him?
I choose that phrase carefully. If we abide in Christ, and His words abide within us, our hearts will change. As our hearts change, our prayers will change. We will hope to see God’s kingdom come to fruition.
Practically speaking, there are many ways that we can be connected to the vine. We can spend time memorizing Scripture, meditating on the Word, praying, engaging in Godly community and exhorting one another in the faith. Through all of these action items, we enhance our relationship with the Lord, and our hearts become more like His. As our hearts are changed, intercede on behalf of others, pray for our nation’s leaders, pray for your Church leaders, and most importantly pray that God would intervene mightily in the hearts of those who do not already know Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that you would work mightily through our prayer lives, not because we are pious, or that we are more eloquent than others, but because our hearts are transformed and look like you. Renew in us a passion for prayer, and implant in our hearts a desire to spend time with you each day. You are the giver of True Life, and it is only through our dependence upon you that we can truly live as you intended. It’s in your name that we pray, Amen.