Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4
An important element of a healthy prayer life is learning to abide or remain in Christ. Jesus gave the command to “remain in me, as I also remain in you.” The word remain, in the original language, has a range of nuanced meaning including: remain, stay, persist, wait for, and to dwell for an extended period. The direction that Jesus gives is to remain, stay put and persist in him as he also remains in us. This is an invitation, a directive, to continue in relationship with Jesus. We cannot just give lip service to the Lord, with a quick prayer here and there, and then go off to do what we want to do the rest of the time.
Jesus wants us to remain with him as he remains with us, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We can have the Spirit in us, but if we do not pay attention to Him, we miss out on His ability to lead us. Therefore, Jesus urges us to remain in him. He wants us to cultivate an attitude of mind and spirit which remains open to the voice of Jesus through the Spirit, so that He may speak to us during the regular activities of our lives.
There are times when we shut Jesus out of our lives. Times when we try to do life on our own. Times when we try to live out of our own strength and our own resources. But there are also times when we actively shut the door on Jesus so that we can pursue our own sinful habits and desires. Jesus is encouraging us not to shut him out, but to continue to invite him in, to continue to remain or abide in Him.
When we remain in Jesus we will produce fruit. In other words, there will be an effect. When we remain open to the Spirit’s voice to lead us, change will happen in our lives and our spiritual walk. The Spirit will pull us away from the things which would cause us harm and instead continue to point us towards things which bring us life. When we choose not to shut Jesus out of our lives we will grow in relationship and intimacy with him. He will continue to guide us into places where his glory may be demonstrated.
Our prayer life becomes richer because of this continually growing relationship with Jesus. The psalmist says. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). The invitation of Jesus is to live with him, to remain in this place of connection and intimacy with Almighty God. What a privilege to remain with him in life and in prayer.