Summary: Abiding in Christ, a relationship more intimate than being at home with a loving family, is our source of life. Christ’s words abiding in us should be so familiar to us that when we encounter the false we know it. These are two keys to empowered prayer.
Prayer Keys - Abiding in Christ and Christ’s Words Abiding in Us
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you,” John 15:7.
For this prayer key, I prefer the “old fashioned” King James Bible language. Abiding carries not only the idea of remaining or staying, but also of being “at home.” Home is (or should be) a place where I belong, with a loving family that is always there for me and accepting me. I am free, safe, and secure. Sadly, not everyone has the memories of home that I do. But I still like the term abiding in Christ and his word abiding in us.
Abiding in Christ is even more intimate than being at home. He compared it to a vine and a branch. The branch draws its life and nourishment from the vine. The branch can do nothing, not even survive, without the vine.
I am still wresting with understanding this biblical concept. Comparing “abiding” to “being at home” is still easier for me to understand.
One of my memories is the family always being together for supper, sitting, praying, eating, and talking. My day was important to my parents. They were interested in how my day went, in what I did, what I studied, and what I learned.
That image comes to mind when I think of abiding in Christ. My day is important to him. He is interested in how my day went, in what I did, what I studied, and what I learned. As much as my family wants what is best for me, he, incredibly, wants it even more.
I am important to my family, but my family is also important to me. “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” My family influenced the man I have become. My earliest memories include being in church. As a child, I remember my father’s prayers and my mother teaching me John 3:16 even before I could read all the words (much less study the Bible on my own).
As I abide in Christ, he influences the man I am and the man I am becoming.
I remember an expression which is not heard much these days, “He’s the spittin image of…” It was used of one who resembled his father, big brother, an uncle, or other older relative. To me, it sounded like, “spitting image.” I wondered what spitting had to do with family resemblance.
I was a young adult before I learned that “He’s the spittin image of…” was shortened from, “He’s the spirit and image of…” It is more than a physical resemblance. It includes a spiritual resemblance.
As we abide in Christ, as he influences the people we are and the people we become, as people look at us and recognize the spirit and image of Christ, we will pray more effectively.
Jesus’ words abiding in us is also a Biblical key to effective prayer.
Maybe you saw the Reader’s Digest filler about the parents who gave their son a Bible when he left for his first year of college. They told him it would be a great help in his time of need. Soon, he wrote home asking for money (“wrote home,” does that indicate how long ago this was?). They wrote back telling him to read his Bible, citing chapter and verse. He replied that he was reading the Bible – but he still needed money. The first time he came home, his parents said they knew he was not reading his Bible. They had tucked $10 and $20 bills by the verses they wrote for him to read ($10 or $20 went a lot farther back then).
Many of us miss the far greater riches that God has given us in his word. People have said, “A Bible in the hand is worth two in the bookcase,” and “A Bible stored in the mind is worth a dozen stored in the bottom of a trunk.”
Another line that has stayed with me is, “It is easier to learn God’s word by memory than by heart.” We sometimes say we learn something “by heart” when we mean “by memory.” It is possible to learn the words without understanding them. Many teachers and preachers emphasize memorizing scripture. Before that, maybe we should emphasize reading and studying the Bible regularly enough to be familiar with it and thinking about how to apply it.
I have heard and read several variations of this story. Some relate it to training bank tellers, some to treasury agents, and some to FBI agents. I don’t know which, if any, is true. The story still makes a good point.
It is important that [a teller, treasure agent, FBI agent, ???] be trained to detect counterfeit money. He studies how to test papers and inks. He studies to use a micrometer to measure how many 10,000ths of an inch apart the cross hatch lines are on the different portraits. Every time a counterfeit is found, he receives updates on the printing errors (scratches, dots, breaks in lines, inconsistent spacing, and so on). It is a long, tedious, never ending process, but necessary to establish that a bill is a counterfeit in a court of law.