Holy Spirit Prayers

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

So what do we pray when we just don’t know what to pray? Friends have you ever been there? I know I have. When the situation at hand gets so intense, or so deep, or my heart feels shattered into a million little pieces, or I wonder if I will even have the strength to get myself out of bed in the morning. What do I ask God for and how do I ask Him to fix the situation? I know there have been times when I get up to have my quiet time and I sat and simply stared at my Bible and/or stared at the page where my intent was to journal out my feelings and my requests. At times like these, these are the verses that have come to my mind. 

Because I have the Holy Spirit living in me, because Jesus has moved into my heart is not a guarantee that I will never hurt again or that life will always be sunshine and lollipops. But what it is a guarantee of is that I always have a help, I have the Holy Spirit as my guide all the time, but He is also my sustainer. When I am so weak I don’t know if I can go on, I know that as long as I let Him take the reins from me, that He will help me to go on. When I don’t know what to ask God for, I simply ask Him to Be God in my circumstances. And I ask the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf. 

Look at the last part of verse 27 ~ “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” This to me means that the Spirit always has the will of God in mind, and the will of God is always perfect! It is no accident that the next verse is the promise that all things work together for those that love God (v 28). Now I know that in this life there are things we never can fully grasp. Lord, why did someone have to die young? Lord, why did my husband lose his job? Lord, why is my kid going off the rails and not acting like he/she was raised to act? The only answer I can find for all of those and many more questions is we live in an imperfect, fallen world, and there are things that are happening that we in our minds can’t put answers to. For me, it never crossed my mind that one of my sisters would not grow old with me. Yet 4 years ago I received the dreaded call that my sister had passed away. I still don’t have the answer as to why that had to happen and why on earth it had to happen as suddenly as it did. We didn’t get to say things that we would have said had we known. But what I did receive was when my heart was so broken I didn’t know how to ask God to help me put it back together, I had the Holy Spirit by my side when I hurt, and when I cried and when I wondered when/if I would ever get to a place that didn’t feel like a black cloud was following me around. 

I have other times that come to my mind where I didn’t have a choice but to turn things over and ask the Holy Spirit to take over and intercede on my behalf because I just didn’t have a clue what to pray for anymore. I am so comforted and grateful that I can do that. I was listening to a podcast the other day, it was a sermon and the preacher said “faith is not thinking everything is going to turn out like we want it to, faith is knowing that we will be alright no matter how things turn out.” Sometimes that can be a hard place to get to. It may take a few sit down sessions with Jesus! You may have to drag your burdens to the cross and lay them down one by one every day before you begin to truly know in your heart that He is working it. But even when your heart doesn’t know it, look in the scriptures and cling to the promises from God that if you love Him, He is working for your ultimate good and for His perfect will. If you are in that place today where you just don’t know what to pray, then ask the Holy Spirit to take over for you. All you have to say is “God, be God in this circumstance, Your will be done! That is a prayer that will never fail you! 

Community Prayer!

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19-20

I believe in community prayer and these verses support that. I am very blessed to have a small community of friends who have prayed each other through some really rough times. We began meeting when our kids went to college to pray for them as they navigated life in college. We met weekly and in that time we saw these young people make good decisions and bad decisions. We saw some of them graduate college and get married. We saw miracles in their lives and in each other’s lives. We came together week after week and we prayed through and we agreed on good things for their futures and what we wanted for them in Christ. We prayed for our other children, prayed for our families, we have seen each other through losses and we have rejoiced with each other and praised God through weddings and births and blessings! We know each other’s hearts and when our hearts come together to pray for things we have seen miracles. 

One of the key words of this scripture is “agree”. As I dug into this verse, I found that the Greek word for agree means “ to symphonize”. Isn’t that beautiful? When we come together whether we are together in person or together in thought and we ask God for things in Jesus name, it is like it is music to God’s ears! I’m going to quote the paragraph I read because, well I can’t say it any better. 

“Jesus wants us to complement each other like a great orchestra. ‘It is a metaphor taken from a number of musical instruments set to a same key, and playing the same tune: here, it means a perfect agreement of the hearts, desires, wishes, and voices, of two or more persons praying to God.”

Isn’t that a beautiful way to see community prayer! I keep having the vision of when my grandlittles are here and they both start asking for something, let’s say a snack. Their sweet little voices calling my name in unison with each other is music to my ears and I will pretty much give them whatever they want when they start doing that. It brings a smile to my face and bubbles up so much joy in my heart that I can’t contain myself until I bring joy back to them. It is the best feeling. I wonder if God feels the same way when we get a group together and he hears the symphony of our voices and our hearts asking for things.  

The next key words are “in my name”. When we come together in community prayer to ask something of Him, we must be asking in Jesus name! I think many times when we get discouraged that our prayers are not being answered we may have confused the asking in His name. This means having the ultimate will of the Father in mind when we ask something. Are we praying for someone’s salvation? Well we know that it is His desire that all should come to Him and that none should perish. Keep asking and gather a community to help you! Are we praying for a certain relationship to work out or are we praying for it to work out if it is God’s will and what is best for the long run? Are we praying for a job or a move or material things? For instance, are we asking Jesus for a new car because we like the smell of a new car and we want to drive a nice shiny new car, or are we asking for a new car because we are worried the one we are driving will not get us to work and back anymore? Look at the things you are asking for and be sure that you are asking “in Jesus name”. To be asking and gathering together in His name, means He is the point, it means we know Him and we are known by Him. It means we are asking for things that would be in line with His character and nature and it means that we know that it is what Jesus would endorse. When we gather together to ask for things in His name that we know would be about His character and His work then we can know that we are gaining the ear and the heart of God and we can know that He will answer.

Pray for your Enemies

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27-28

I guess we are going to cover some of the hard prayers this week. Yesterday we talked about when Jesus told the disciples who were in the garden with Him to “watch and pray” and we realized that this was a story for our hearts as well as for Peter and the other disciples hearts. We must pray in order to overcome our weaknesses. Well, now today may be covering one of my greatest weaknesses! To love my enemy, to do good to those who hate me, to speak good words about those who don’t speak good words about me and to pray for them? Really Lord, is this really what you expect of me? 

We also covered yesterday that all scripture is God breathed and useful for reproach and profitable for teaching so yes I am sure that Jesus means for it to teach me and not just for someone else. 

Look at this verse, first line, “I say to you who hear” that is all of us who are followers of Christ. If we are a follower of Christ we have to take all of His words not just the ones that we don’t mind applying to us. Not just the Love your neighbor part, that part is easy, well unless you have a very unlovable neighbor who could really be called an enemy.  Jesus is not telling us here if we can, or if we so desire. He is telling us to Love our enemies. Yes, even those people who are particularly nasty to you yet you don’t even know why. 

And then it’s not just so much to say we love them we are supposed to do good to them. “Do good to those who hate you” really Lord? But what if I do good to them and they don’t accept it and they continue to act like an enemy to me? I don’t see Him giving me a way out because His next line is “bless those who curse you”! Oh Lord you have got to be kidding me I am really supposed to speak good things about those unlovable people who not only don’t like me but they speak ill things of me? They are not working on loving me, why should I have to work on loving them? 

And then it gets really hard, “pray for those who abuse you” or “mistreat you” (NIV) or “spitefully use you” (NKJV) But Lord, I don’t want to pray for those who are ugly to me. I don’t want you to bless them. That’s my humanity speaking again. My human fleshly spirit sure wants to carry around the hurt when others have mistreated me. But if I am striving to be a Christian woman who loves Jesus with all of her heart then I have to follow the commands of my Savior. And that means, yes, even when I feel like I have an enemy I am supposed to extend love to them. I am not responsible for their actions I am only responsible for mine. 

You see Jesus tells us in verse 32 

“If you love those who love you what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” Luke 6:32

Loving the people who love us is not hard to do. Jesus is calling us to the hard stuff and that is to pray for everyone, not just the people we like or we love. Jesus is telling us to bless those unlovable people, to speak good words about them. My Mama always said if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. But Jesus says bless them, that means to speak good about them. And He says to do good to them. And while we are at it, I think we need to remember yesterday’s prayer and to pray to overcome our weaknesses in this regard, our very humanity at holding grudges and the not loving. 

The good news is that Jesus does end this command with a blessing to us. 

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35

When you extend love, blessing and kindness to the unlovely, ungrateful and ugly, you have to learn to expect nothing in return from them. But you can know that your Father in heaven sees it and the reward you receive from Him will be greater than any you can receive from your enemy. Don’t expect them to turn around, pray for them but don’t expect it back from them. But know that you will receive a blessing from your Father and that you will be a son or daughter of the Most High!  What greater reward is there than that! 

Watch and Pray!

“And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘so could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” Matthew 26:40-41

I have read these verses many times as just a recording of what happened in the Garden before Jesus was arrested and crucified. But while we are looking at prayer, I wanted to come at it from a little different approach. Really the way we should be looking at all scripture. What can I learn from it? I believe that every word of scripture is there for us to learn something from it. I also believe that these are stories of things that happened and that as I read it as a story that helps me personify it. When I started reading scripture and picturing the events in my mind as I read, it came alive for me in a way that it never had before. But let us not forget as we read the stories of what happened that there is a lesson in every word of it. 

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

So let’s get back to our scripture we are studying for today in Matthew. This took place when Jesus was in the Garden and He had taken with Him Peter, James and John. He had asked them to watch out for Him while he went on a little farther away from them and prayed. And the disciples fell asleep. Now also remember this was right after the Lord’s Supper, where He had warned them that one of them was going to betray Him. And He had already told Peter that He was going to deny Him. He returns from praying and He finds them asleep. Now we can look back at this story and think “why couldn’t they see what was happening?” But as it unfolded in real time, Peter and the rest of the disciples missed a lot of clues as to what was coming next. But don’t we do the same thing many times? How many times do we in hind sight look back over events and think did I not see that coming? The lesson for us here is in those words “watch and pray”. You see I know on my own I could be a wretched woman. There is no telling how much mess I could get myself into if I were not looking out. Because I get myself in pretty big messes even with my attempts to “watch and pray”! You see Jesus knew Peter’s denial was at hand. He had already even warned Peter that it was coming. But Jesus also knew Peter’s heart was all in for Him. Peter’s spirit did not ever WANT to deny Jesus. But Peter was a man, he was human flesh, just like we are. Could Peter have pulled his bootstraps up and done what he desired? 

“Peter said to him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And the disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:35

Jesus knew that the only way Peter would have been able to keep with that resolve was through being watchful of what was coming and praying for the strength to stick with it. But before we judge Peter, let’s look at our own fleshly weaknesses. We all have them. I have lessons that I have had to learn over and over and my resolve will say I will never do that again! Whatever my “that” may be. We all have a “that”! Could it be gossip, could it be anger, could it be the negative spirit that lives inside? Could it be that drink or that substance, or porn or some other addiction? We all have a weakness brewing inside of us. We all need to be watchful and pray. By now you know that I like to read scripture in other versions. It’s like taking something and looking at it from all angles. I like how The Passion Translation reads. 

“Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.” Matt. 26:41 TPT

Peter’s spirit was eager enough to follow Jesus to His death. But he had a few moments of weakness when he denied Him 3 times even before the sunrise after making that statement. My spirit is enough to say I am going to resolve to not fall into the same old traps over and over. Yet if I don’t keep my watch over my spirit and pray that the Lord will let me be mindful of that weakness I have, I will fall right into the traps before the sun rises the next day. 

Step back and look and see ~ what is your weakness? And how can you be watchful and pray over your own spirit? The spirit is willing, but without prayer our humanity is so very weak! 

I pray you have a great Monday! 

Keep Praying!

“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

It’s one little verse, tucked away that packs a big punch. But it’s only a part of a sentence. 

Rejoice, always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We have talked about these verses before. “Rejoice always”, that can be hard when you’ve been stuck in your home for several days with extreme cold and no heat. That can be hard when you are still praying for that circumstance that you feel like no end will ever be in sight. That can be hard when you just got the diagnosis that seems like the world is about to come to an end. But as a christian we are not rejoicing in our circumstances, or our surroundings. Our joy is the deep down joy that only comes from following Jesus. 

To me to pray without ceasing means to have that constant communication going with Jesus all day every day. I love my mornings with Him. Whether I am having my quiet time in front of my fireplace or on my sun porch watching the sun rise over the lake, it is what keeps me going. My life would be such a wreck without it. But this praying without ceasing, or praying always, or to never stop praying. It’s about the relationship you have gained through those quiet times so that it’s just as important to you as breathing. The Passion Translation says “Make your life a prayer”! Oh isn’t that good! When you build a relationship with Jesus from having daily quiet times with Him and study His word, praying does become as much a part of your day as breathing. The things that I have on my heart that concern me are there all the time, but for me to make my life a prayer or to pray without ceasing is a knowing that He knows my heart all the time and He is taking care of it. It’s like being in a crowded room where you have gone with your spouse or even a friend and looking across the room and knowing that your person is still there with you. It’s a presence that is with you all the time when you have learned how to pray without ceasing. Jesus is with you all the time, He knows your thoughts and He knows your heart, just keep giving it over to Him, all day long every day! 

And then we “give thanks in all circumstances”. Not FOR all circumstances, not FOR all the junk and the hurt and the hardship and the pandemics and the ice storms and the storms of life in general, but IN them! Knowing that He is with you, knowing that He has our ultimate good in mind. When I am in the middle of the hard, messy, gross stuff of life and I feel like I am at the end of my rope and I know I NEED His presence. I just ask Him to show me. And He delivers every time, if I take the time to look for Him. That’s how I can give thanks even in the hard circumstances of my life. 

How have you seen Him this week? What can you be joyful for? What can you be thankful for? Above all Never stop praying! If you have that hurt you need Him to heal. Keep praying! If you have that wayward child that you don’t know when it will ever stop. Keep praying! If you have that illness that may not turn out the way you want. Keep praying! Stay in constant communication with Him and look for the ways He is communicating with You! 

Pray Passionately!

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

I want to quote this verse in several different translations.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Eph. 6:18 (NKJV) 

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Eph.  6:18 (NLT) 

And my favorite ~

“Pray passionately in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers.” Eph. 6:18 (TPT)

When I am looking at a scripture for study I will usually pull from different translations to see if I can get the full meaning of it. And then I will also go to a commentary to see what the scholars (people way smarter than me) have to say about it. Without even going to commentary I can look at these different translations and see what Paul is saying to the Ephesians is simply, pray all the time. Pray with all prayer and supplication ~ we already know from scripture we studied last week that supplication simply means to ask and keep on asking, beg if you have to! Even though I didn’t need to go to commentary, I did and I liked what it said. 

“We should use every kind of prayer we can think of. Group prayer, individual prayer, silent prayer, shouting prayer, walking prayer, kneeling prayer, eloquent prayer, groaning prayer, constant prayer, fervent prayer – just pray.” 

How many times have you heard someone say or you and I have said “all we can do is pray”. And usually that is said as if it is a last resort with a sigh! But friends let me say ALL that we can do for each other is PRAY!! It is the most we can do. We can make supplication for each other, we can persevere for each other, we can pray when we are walking, we can pray when we are driving, we can whisper silent prayers under our breath when we are working. And you can even get to shouting, kneeling, groaning on behalf of someone if that is what is needed. Pray on all occasions! 

And ok, this is just from me and my own experience, but the more you pray earnestly and fervently for a situation or circumstance or for another person, the more you will see God at work in it, the more you will feel His presence in it and the more it will come naturally to you to pray!

This verse followed the passages in Ephesians about putting on the full armor of God. That is no accident ~ there was meaning in it. Prayer is how we go to battle! Friends, you know that thing that has been eating at you for years, that, wayward child, that money issue, that family issue, keep on praying. Pray passionately for it. Keep on interceding constantly at all times! And pray for each other! If all you can do is pray for me and mine, then by all means I am honored that you would pray for me! Find it a privilege to pray for each other.

Just Pray! And pray passionately!

Pray Honestly!

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6”7-8

I think sometimes we make this thing called prayer more complicated than it was ever meant to be. I love this scripture because while we look many times for what to do, we also need to realize just as importantly sometimes is what not to do. We do not have to make our prayers flowery and long in order to be heard by God. We just have to come before Him with an honest heart! 

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my friend Ms. Beth who pointed me to Jesus and taught me how to make prayer my lifeline. I was a young mama and I was going through a season of life that the Lord was really calling me to go deeper into my prayer life. Around that time our pastor was preaching on having a daily quiet time with the Lord. I also ran across a book by an author Becky Tirabassi called “Let Prayer Change Your Life” and I met Ms. Beth. You will never make me believe that those three things lining up in my life at the same time was an accident. There is just no way. I remember thinking I want to go deeper when Bro. Phil would talk about knowing your Bible and having a daily prayer life. When I read the book I mentioned, this author, Becky, said that she would sit down to pray for an hour each day. I thought, well I am going to do that, and that she journaled her prayers. I still remember the first day I decided to do that and I sat down with a journal in front of me and I sat on my patio with children running around in the back yard and I had a piece of paper in front of me and I thought now what, what do I write? What do I say? I think my first journal entry was about a half a page and my prayer may have lasted 5 minutes tops! But it was my beginning of having a most daily quiet time for about 23 years now. I don’t say that to toot my horn. Please know that. I say that simply to say that it has changed me. It has carried me. It has saved my life! And it has made me the woman I am today. Not that I am all that special but I shudder to think where I would be if I had not had that in my life. 

When I first started journaling and having a prayer time, I needed a lot of guidance on just how to stick with it. One of the things I did to help me in my journaling was following an acrostic. 

P – Praise God for who He is. 

R – Repent of your sins and where you fall short. 

A – Ask for God to meet your needs, wants and desires 

Y – Yield to God’s Will 

I don’t follow much of an acrostic anymore and I don’t really journal every day like I did back then. Although I do still keep one and write usually at least once a week. Journaling kept me focused when my mind would try to wander. I am glad I journaled all those years too because it gave me something to look back on. And truly it was the tool that helped to build my relationship with Jesus into what it is today. I love Him with my whole heart and I could not last a day without this relationship. Many of my pages of my journals are tear stained. There are also many where I was hurt and angry and I probably wrote so hard on the pages I thought I would write right through them. It’s been the constant in my life but the most important component in my journals and in my prayer life is to come to Him honestly. He doesn’t care what my words are and how they come together. He doesn’t think they need to be woven beautifully. All He cares about is that I bring my honest heart to Him when I come. Sometimes I am dragging my will to Him like it’s in a big old knapsack and I have to take my worries, my hurts and my desires out of that sack one by one and lay them at the foot of the cross. Sometimes they line up with His will and sometimes I have to yield to His will and in the laying it down I have to ask Him to change my heart. And I tell Him truthfully if this is not really what I want to do. That is really one of the things Ms. Beth taught me. Ms. Beth taught me that when she was hurt or angry with another person she would always take them to Jesus. I can still remember her sweet voice as she would say “I just tell Him, Lord you gave me this man and you have to show me how to deal with Him when He makes me angry. He’s all yours.” I loved the way Ms. Beth said “Lord”. And mind you she loved her sweet man but just like all of us he made her angry too. 

You may be years into a prayer journey with Jesus or you may be just beginning one. If you are just beginning, the most important thing I can tell you is bring your honest heart to Him. Journaling will keep you focused if you need to and it doesn’t have to be a fancy one. I usually just use a composition notebook. And just tell Him what you need. As the scripture says, He already knows! 

Prayer brings Healing!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 6:13-16

James is talking about the importance of prayer. When should we pray? When we are suffering, when we are joyful, when you are sick and at that time you should call out to others for prayer too. And when you do that, not only should you pray but you should do medicinally what you can do to get well. That is what “anointing him with oil” means. The people thought that anointing with oil was medicinal, so James is not saying just pray, he is saying get medical attention as well. James promises that the prayer of faith will save the sick. This does not necessarily mean that all that are sick will be healed on earth and if not, that you didn’t have enough faith. It means we pray and we leave in the Lords hands how the healing will come. 

But the focus verse for us today is this:

“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power at it is working.” James 5:16

They say confession is good for the soul. I think “they” are probably right. What I get from this, and reading in other versions as well as commentary supports, is that if we have unconfessed sin in our lives it can stand in the way of our prayers being heard and our ultimate healing. I also think James may mean spiritual healing and not just physical healing. If we have something that is unconfessed between us and God then it will stand in the way of our communication with God. I think when he says confess your sins to one another, he is not necessarily meaning that we have to go to a leader in the church, but that we should find a confidant, someone we can trust and I will take that a step further to say that if we have something between us and another person, it can stand in the way of communication as well. Think about it, when there is something that is standing between you and another person, a hurt, or an argument, the communication is strained. It is quite the same with God. When we have unconfessed sin, it’s not that God doesn’t want to listen, it’s a strain on the relationship. 

The second half of this verse, “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” does not mean that a righteous person is someone who will do everything right, but it means a person who is trying, who is confessing when they do get it wrong, is trying to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in their lives! When that person prays, there is power that comes down from heaven on their behalf! And my favorite part is “as it is working.” When you pray the work begins right then and there. We may many times feel like our prayers are not going past the ceiling and sometimes I am not sure they are even reaching the ceiling. But that’s just not true, all we have to do is follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, try to do the right thing and really confess when we don’t get it right and our prayers are heard and the power is released to work on our behalf. 

James gives an example of our friend Elijah from the old testament. 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” James 5:17-18

Did you catch that, Elijah was a man, he was just a man and look at the great power that his prayers exhibited. Do you stop and realize that the people in the Bible are just people, just flesh and blood people like me and you. We have the benefit of being able to read the end of the book, they didn’t. They were just people who had to exhibit faith. Just like us! 

Abide in Me!

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

Wow! What a promise from Jesus!! However, you can’t just take the latter part of this verse the ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you without taking the first part of this verse ~ “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you”! Well I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to dive in and find out what it means to abide in Him? If that means that I can ask Him for anything. That is definitely a hook for the big old selfish side of me! To dive in and see what this one verse means, let’s look at the previous verses. 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:1-7

You see it goes much deeper than just asking for whatever we want. Jesus spoke in terms the disciples would understand. They knew about growing vineyards so they would understand all of the pictures that Jesus was drawing out with His words. I dare say most of us do not have a full understanding of a vineyard and growing grapes. But Jesus still speaks in pretty simplistic terms for us when you break it down. I also read that in ancient Israel there were grapevines everywhere. So there was the idea was that Israel was God’s vine. But Jesus tells his disciples in this passage “I am the true vine”. The legalism that kept people in the rituals of religion in order to stay connected to the church, was broken when Jesus was born and through His earthly ministry and His ultimate death on the cross. Don’t get me wrong I love my church and I love my connection to my church. But my roots are in Jesus not in the church. Also, this lesson came from Jesus as He was preparing to face the cross and it seems He was wanting to prepare His disciples for His physical absence from Him. By saying I am the true vine, He is wanting to draw the picture to them that their connection to the church is not where their roots are. Jesus wants them to remember their connection to Him first! Jesus is our vine, our connection to the Father. 

Another picture that the disciples would understand is when He says; “and My Father is the vinedresser”. The disciples would have known what the vinedresser does automatically. The vinedresser tends to the vines. He directs their growth. When He says every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, he is not saying that He will throw us away if we are not bearing fruit, but what He will do is redirect our path. Let me just quote what I read: 

“There is an alternative understanding of this passage that bears some consideration. James Montgomery Boice (among others) believes that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated ‘takes away’ is more accurately translated ‘lifts up’. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as was common in ancient practices of vineyard care). Those caring for ancient grape vines made sure to lift them up off the ground that they might get more sun and bear fruit better.”

Now I don’t know who James Montgomery Boice is, but I like his explanation! You see when we are not bearing fruit, what the vinedresser does is not cut us off to throw us away, but he redirects us. He “lifts us up”! I picture the vinedresser gently picking a vine up off of the ground and cleaning it off and tying it up to relieve the stress that the branches must feel. You think about it if the branches are on the ground, they have become too heavy to hold up on their own, when the vinedresser ties the branch up, the place that the branch is connected to the vine, is relieved of the stress that might break it. And it becomes stronger! When the Father lifts us up when we feel like we are laying on the ground, He is relieving some of the stress so that our relationship with Jesus (the vine) can become stronger. When we are abiding with Him, when we are connected to the Vine, we are stronger and we can bear fruit! When we are bearing fruit, when we are closely connected to the Vine, then we will have in mind the things that He has in mind. And that my friends is when we get to this thought that what we ask for will be done for us. We will desire good things, we will desire things that mean something to Him! Because we will be so closely connected to the vine we will have kingdom thoughts! Our kingdom thoughts will be for the good of ourselves and the good of those we love! 

Remarkable Secrets!

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: ‘Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it – the Lord is his name. Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.’” Jeremiah 33:1-3 (ESV)

Jeremiah was not in a good place. This was during the last years of King Zedekiah’s reign and he had put Jeremiah in prison for preaching the name of the Lord. This was during the final siege of the Babylonians against Jerusalem. Have you noticed something? We have talked about two people’s perspective on prayer other than Jesus this week and both of them were locked up. They were not in a good place. Paul was under house arrest and Jeremiah was in jail. Yet both of them were calling on the name of the Lord and they heard from Him. Jeremiah starts by recognizing who God is ~ He made the earth, he formed it and He established it! I think what Jeremiah was doing was recognizing that no matter how bad things may look God is still in control. Just like now, no matter how things may look to you, God is still in control. No matter if there is a worldwide pandemic going on, no matter who is sitting in the White House, no matter if you have lost your job or if gas gets to $5.00 a gallon, the Lord formed the earth and He establishes it and He is still in control! 

One take away I think, when I notice these stories where these people are in a bad place yet they still are reaching out to God, is it makes me reflect on my own life. I think at times, God allows us to get into these tight spots, these situations and circumstances so that we WILL call on Him. I know for me personally, when I look back over my life I always learned more, and my relationship with Him always grew more during those times when I NEEDED God so much that I couldn’t help but call out to Him. My spiritual life is so much more at risk when things are going well. I will tend to fall into the trap of checking off the spiritual box and moving on with my day. When life is tough and when the hurts run deep, I seem to spend more quality time with God, where I search the scriptures and I seek answers. I don’t want to only call on Him in my need. The truth is, I need Him all the time, no matter if things are going crazy or if things are going well. I pray to recognize my need for Him every day, not just in the bad times! 

This verse Jeremiah 33:3 is one of my favorites! (I know I have many favorites)! 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

When we come to Him with a genuine heart and we call on Him, He does show great and mighty things. The ESV says “great and hidden things” or as in the NLT “remarkable secrets”. I really love that one. Praying is our lifeline, it is our communication with God and it is where we learn the remarkable things that He has for us! 

I have mentioned many times on here I am a simple-minded woman. When I first began to study the scriptures, most of the time I could not follow along at all, and I am still no scholar! I try to handle the Word rightly and my greatest prayer is that I would! But I can tell you that what I have learned in scripture has been always preceded with a crying out to Him for Him to show me, to teach me to lead me and guide me in what I am reading. If you want to understand scripture, you must ask Him for understanding of scripture. It sounds too simple to put it in those terms but it is true.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple;” Psalm 19:7