Intro: Our 2017 Prayer Cards are a resource we use to unify the prayers of our congregation as we seek the Lord over the course of this next year. This year we have made a shift in how we are praying for these things: last year we listed our requests and included a verse or two that correlated to that request; this year we have made the power and authority of Scripture the focus of our petitions. We are praying 7 specific passages of Scripture and then have summarized them into single sentence supplications to God. I am blogging about each of the 7 requests for 2017 to give insight into the passage and why we are praying it for our congregation.
Passage: John 15:5-11
Prayer: For more of God’s power and presence in our lives and in the life of our congregation leading to greater fruitfulness.
It’s such a powerful word. It goes so far beyond hang out, spend time with, be together, get along, enjoy each other’s company, etc. It dives deeper into our need for companionship with God and means to dwell with, stay, endure, remain, or to be present with. There is a richness to the type of connection that abide refers to that implies great depth and duration. You see, if we see Jesus as the vine and ourselves as the branches then we begin understanding our relationship to Him in terms of complete dependency. Abiding isn’t a suggestion for a better life, it’s necessary for life.
Without the power and presence of God in our lives the startling and bold reality is that we have nothing. We are completely dependent upon Him for everything. Without Him we are left empty. That is why this is such a powerful and critical passage for us to pray through. We need God in our lives and in the life of our church. As we pray this passage over ourselves and over our church we quickly see God’s grace and beauty at work: if we abide in Him, and He abides in us, we will bear much fruit. This promise is followed by a warning: apart from me [God] you can do nothing.
As a pastor of a young church I very much want us to be fruitful as we grow in our relationships with God, grow together as a congregation, and reach our community with the Gospel. If we are not being fruitful then there isn’t much point in us being here. The key to that fruitfulness is abiding. Us abiding in God and God abiding in us. The passage goes on to describe for us what fruitfulness produced by abiding will look like:
- ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you
- God will be glorified
- we prove that we are His disciples
- we are loved by Him and should abide in His love
- we abide in his love by keeping His commands
- His joy will be in us
- our joy will be full
That sounds like the sweetest, tastiest, most scrumptious fruit that I can sink my teeth into. That is the fruitfulness I want for my life and for the life of Rising Church. It’s the same fruitfulness that the world desperately needs from us. They just don’t know it yet.
But be mindful! Our prayer for 2017 doesn’t start with this passage because of what we want from God or what we can get from Him. It’s so much deeper than that. The motivation for praying this passage is that we will abide with God and rest in Him. That we would so long for His fellowship and companionship that we would continually seek His presence and dwell with Him. That in His presence He would change us more into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. From that place, from that perspective, from that Person we would then see fruitfulness abound in our lives and the life of our congregation.
So what does it look like to abide? I think it begins with an attitude of our hearts. We need to long for God and desire after Him. We need to repent of our sin and desire Him above the wants of this world. We need to run into the arms of our Savior with a reckless abandon towards anything and everyone else. We have to want Him above all else.
God, we need more of Your power and presence in our lives and in the life of our congregation leading to greater fruitfulness. Amen!