Before we dive into and scrutinise the content of our prayer lives against the Master’s teaching on the same, let us rewind a little to reinforce and remind ourselves of its significance.
How well are you anchored in Christ?
Being anchored in Christ is not only a matter of producing fruit but an existential one too. Where one is not anchored in Christ through a regular, daily time of connecting with Him with a meaningful prayer life, one is, as Christ Himself asserted, at risk of falling away due to lack of nutrition. John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
It is from being well connected to Christ and feeding on Him, like the branch on the vine, that life is sustained and fruitfulness attained. You need to anchor yourself in Christ through an intimate and personal connection, which is facilitated, primarily, through a dedicated personal prayer life. Without such an anchoring, it is only a matter of time before a falling away occurs. But in anchoring yourself in Christ through a robust and thriving, intimate and personal prayer life, He becomes your Anchor and Hope in the sea of life and you set yourself up well, not only for the here and now but for the challenges in the years ahead.
God’s express desire and declared intention over every disciple of Christ is a fruitful life. In John 15:16 Christ makes it so clear that we are chosen and appointed by Him for this purpose – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
This is the purpose of our being chosen and appointed – to bear fruit that remains and which truly brings glory to the Father – not any old fruit or fruit that comes and goes, appears and disappears; is there today and gone tomorrow. Moreover, God’s heart desire is that we produce more and much of this kind of fruit, not little. (John 15:2, 5, 8)
However, the only means of producing the kind of fruit that ticks all the boxes above is when we take the task and responsibility of abiding in Christ seriously indeed; just like a branch must abide on the vine if it is to produce the right fruit. It is about making Christ and our connection with Him an integral part of our lives that we cannot do without. It is about growing and bringing ourselves to depend on and trust in Him for our lives. It is not just about hanging in there but consolidating and firming our connection with Him to facilitate for the abundant production of fruit in our lives for the years ahead. Fruit bearing is the absolutely natural outcome of abiding in Christ as a branch abides on its vine. John 15:4 – 5
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Christ and Christ alone is the source of our life and fruitfulness and not our activity or cleverness. It has been said, and rightly so, that God does not call us to be clever but connected.
Integrate your whole life into Christ and Him into yours understanding how crucial your abiding in Him is for accomplishing God’s purpose in your life. It is your abiding in Christ that will accomplish God’s purposes in your life. You are the one that can and is responsible for making your abiding happen. Hence the reason why Christ stressed it so much and used a simple, everyday illustration, to drive His point home. He desired all His disciples to understand it.
The nature of the relationship between the vine and the branch is not loose but firm, it is not mechanical but organic. Christ was essentially instructing His disciples (and by extension us too) to ensure that we stay in such a relationship with Him – firmly (not loosely) connected to Him and making Him an integral part of our entire lives.
The Lord repeatedly exhorted His disciples to take the task of abiding in Him upon themselves. It was to them He entrusted the responsibility of maintaining that connection at the level of branch with vine. Otherwise there lurked a great danger of falling away, of being either with little or no fruit at all – a very far cry from God’s declared intent over our lives.
They were the ones to whom this responsibility was delegated. It was they (us) who had to make it work now; they had to work on their abiding, on maintaining the connection themselves. This was to be their focus, their main task and key responsibility – to continue in Christ and abide in Him through a closely maintained relationship facilitated primarily by the medium of a dedicated personal prayer life.
Embrace this task wholeheartedly!