As Christian women, it is quite natural that questions arise in our hearts and minds concerning our prayer life. Like the disciples, we want to ask Jesus “teach me to pray.” We wonder what “pray without ceasing” could look like, whether we are honoring God, and whether we should find some new method.
Jesus’ disciples were still learning how to pray; Jesus was patient in instructing them. This lets us know that our desire to learn more about prayer is healthy, and He delights to teach us as well. Today we will look at how abiding in Christ can help us find answers to these questions.
Two particular passages from the Gospel of John speak to our heart’s desire to learn more about prayer:
John 8:31-32 “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
John 15:5-8 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather then, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
Continue in His word
As we continue, His word finds a place in us. We read, we muse upon His word, we remember it and believe it, and as Paul told the Thessalonians, His word works powerfully in us (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13). In us, in our inner self. This means we should notice the impact of abiding in His word in our thought life, in our desires, in our conscience. As we patiently continue, His truth sets us free from focusing too much on self. His truth will push out fears and doubts that would otherwise hold us back from prayer.
As you abide in His word, you will know Him more, which will then bring greater freedom to stop wondering if you are ‘getting it right.’ Our prayers will become more aligned with Jesus’ own attitude. He was submissive to the Father; He knew He could count on the Father’s love, faithfulness, goodness. He knew every prayer was heard. He was gentle and humble. When He cried out in anguish, in despair, in grief, in turmoil, He was not demanding, or snarky, or standoffish.
Our prayers will also grow to be more in line with His desires, which He has clearly revealed in His Word. As we present our needs and wants, Jesus’ humility and patience will become a filter through which we think, pray, and wait. His glory, and His kingdom, will become more precious to us.
Bearing Much Fruit
Finally, by abiding in Him, we enjoy a more fruitful and satisfying prayer life. John 15:7 is not a promise to give us whatever we want, whenever we say we want it. His promise is even better. A fruitful prayer life is not a prayer life that results in all yesses. It is a promise to use His word in us, and a call for us to join Him in His kingdom work as He:
- Makes us more like Him.
- Brings our desires into line with His. (Oh, that we could call ‘good’ what God does, and delight in true beauty as God does!)
- Allows us to view our circumstances from His perspective, with His perfect peace guarding our hearts even during the times that naturally cause us to despair.
- Grants us the confidence to enter the throne room continually (perfect love has cast out the fear of entering His presence).
- Reassures our hearts of our belonging, and of being perfectly welcomed by Him.
- Awakens within us a desire for the good works He created us for (Ephesians 2:10).
Abiding— the call seen most clearly in the Gospel of John— can beautifully shape your prayer life. Disciples continue in His Word, and that Word shapes our hearts and our prayers. What glorious freedom this brings as we dig deeper into the meaning of abiding, and into all that Jesus promises to His abiding disciples.
For further reflection:
Sometimes a meme, an article, or idea will resonate, and we adopt it too quickly. Have you taken time to examine what is shaping your prayers? Are you praying from worldly desires that need to be put off, or godly desires that are in line with Scripture?
Have you ever tried journaling to help grow your prayer life? Writing is slower, this gives you more time to savor what God’s Word is saying, and to let it shape your petitions. You may even ask for help and wisdom with more confidence in His Love and continual presence if you are willing to slow down.
About the Author:
Emily Darnell lives in Virginia with her husband and children. She teaches a women’s Bible Study, and plans events at her local church. She enjoys homeschooling, adventuring with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains, gardening, good books, and good conversations. Her book, “Deep Simplicity: Meditations on Abiding in Christ” is available now for pre-order, releasing on November 6, 2020.