Ask! What’s your “big ask?” How often I go to God with big prayer requests. For family, for friends, for places and people who need God’s help. I believe God answers prayer.  The Bible encourages us to ask God for what we need.  We’re to go boldly and often to God with our heartfelt petitions (Philippians 4:6,7).

But in John 15, Jesus points us back to our relationship with Him as the starting point for prayer. Calling Himself the “true vine,” He reminds us that we’re His “branches.” Branches can’t bear fruit if disconnected from the vine.

In my busy, noisy world, I’m likely to blow right past the relationship with Jesus in my prayer quest. Jesus stops me dead in my tracks with these words.   If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7).

The word “remain” is from the Greek word meno, which means to “remain, abide, or dwell.”  I’m to make “my home” in Jesus.  I’m to plant myself in Him and His words in me.  This sets up the condition for fruitful living as well as answered prayer.  When I “remain” in Him, I’m more likely to be praying His will. Powerful words. Powerful reminder. I get that.

But this morning, I was struck by the fact that Jesus uses the word  “remain” eleven times in the first ten verses.  If I tell my kids something eleven times, you can bet I mean it!  Surely, Jesus’ challenge to “remain in Him” is the most important “take away” from my reading, and  my watchword for the day.

So what does “to remain” look like for me practically?  Here are a few thoughts:

1. I continue to carve out time with the Lord early each morning.  I “plant” His Word in me, and I “pace” myself to keep in step with His leading.  Alert to His voice, I try to guard myself against jumping ahead of His leading.  The “dailyness” of this can be my undoing if I let it.  Like any training regime, much of the pay-off is  long-term.

2. I’m fierce with my “Sabbath.” Humans need to come apart or we “come apart.”  Few voices encourage us to take time off to rest, reflect, “remain.”   I find myself listening less and less to voices that seem to come from those who don’t take time to rest, reflect, remain.

3. If I am truly obedient to “remain” in Jesus as my priority, I may find that life’s “outer appearance” can slide a bit.  Care of the soul may not be as obvious as care of my image.  In the long run, though, I think it brings the most fruit.

And if we “remain” in Jesus?  “This is to my Father’s glory,” He reminds us,  “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

How about you? What helps you to “remain” in Christ? It’s worth your best energy.  Something to think about.

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