I’m six weeks into the six month prayer challenge where I’m asking God daily for a few things. [http://snacksfromthecruisebuffet.blogspot.com/2009/11/six-month-challenge.html]
Even though I knew there was nothing sacred about asking every single day, I was a little anxious at the beginning about how I was going to remember to do it every day. I got a couple of index cards [green ones, because I love doing things in color] and wrote out John 15:7, 8. “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”
Below the verse, I listed the four things I’m asking God for. I sprinkled these cards around the house–one by my bed, one on my desk, one in my daytimer, one in my devotional notebook. I admit that this turned out to be a typical case of overkill. Because my areas of concern are big and important to me, I’m very motivated to talk to God about them, and by the end of the first week, I found I had involuntarily memorized the verse. Doing this every day it has made me more aware of my dependence on God. It’s been humbling every day to acknowledge that I have needs I can’t fulfill, desires I can’t accomplish with my own resources and power, that I am limited and weak and needy. I’m not the master of my universe.
But I’m doing more than just saying “give me, give me.” Jesus begins His promise in John with: “If you remain in Me…” That’s a pretty big ‘if’. I have to stay by Him. I can’t wander off. I need to keep connected. It’s like being on life support. Unplug the tubes and things will go haywire. Practically speaking this means spending time worshipping Him before I begin to pray, looking to Him, contemplating who He is, quieting myself down, getting my focus off the pressures of my day and my worries and fears. Most days I find it helpful to listen to worship music to center myself.
I’ve seen that another part of remaining in Him involves putting my life back under His authority and control. It means looking to see where I’ve let the connection between me and Him get broken. I’ve been asking myself, “What is separating me from God today? Where am I putting distance between me and Him? Where am I resisting Him?” Then I can ask His forgiveness and claim the grace He offers me.
I’ve also rediscovered that if I’m going to remain in God, I need to carve out the space and time to meet with Him. Stepping out in faith isn’t fast and easy. It’s not like winging a frisbee on the fly or mumbling over the list and then saying, “There, I’m done.” Praying takes time.
There have been days where I was really busy and I ended up grabbing a few minutes on the run with Him. It was like eating fast food–it got the job done but it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as a gourmet meal. It’s much better when I spend more time with God —not because I have to but because it’s more enjoyable when I can savor being with Him, talking over things, studying, contemplating rather than just quickly throw my requests at Him before I rush off to something else. With my good friends, I cherish the times when we can sit down to a well-prepared meal and linger over it as we share what is going on with each other. My life with God is like that; it’s not a tool for getting what I want. He’s the vine, I’m the branch. The sap rises up, the nutrients flow through and fruit is formed. It’s the only way.