One of the reasons I chose to live intentionally this year was something I read by Jean Fleming in her wonderful book, Pursue the Intentional Life. In the first two pages, she grabbed my attention with her insight, “The truth is that, all things unchanged, the women we will be at seventy, eighty, and ninety are the women we are at forty and fifty—only distilled. Have you ever noticed that the flaws and weaknesses of a forty-year-old concentrate with age?” (page 16). She went on to expand on some of the flaws and weaknesses I know I struggle with: complaining, self-centeredness, bitterness.
I do not want to be a complaining, self-centered, bitter woman. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.
I took comfort in her statement, “Of course, it’s not too late to grow and change, but, more important, it’s never too soon to begin.” (page 16).
Since 2013, I choose one word to be my focus, to keep me growing and centered on Christ. 2015’s word is ABIDE. In previous years, I tried to keep that word at the forefront of my life, but this year I want to really live and breathe that concept.
Each month I am prayerfully choosing a specific way to ABIDE. January’s discipline is pray. Continually.
I add a new verse to memorize and LIVE each week. Otherwise I memorize and KNOW a verse. But Jesus wants more than that. He wants me to imitate Him. Become more and more like Him. “He must increase and I must decrease,” (John 3:30).
This week, my verse is Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” It sounds very much like the verses from the first two weeks.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 4:2, “Pray diligently. Stay alert with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”
But that is one of the things that makes God’s Word so amazing. He never changes. His message to me is clear: To abide—to remain in His care, in His will, in His presence—prayer is not something I tack on at the beginning or end of the day. It isn’t rote. It’s honest and heartfelt and constant.
Prayer comes from my need for Christ. Faithful prayer, continual prayer, diligent prayer is the direct result of my abiding in Him.
Prayer allows me to remember I belong to Him. When the going gets tough, prayer reminds me to concentrate on the hope I have. And that hope gives way to rejoicing in the midst of anything. Prayer provides the means for me to be patient in affliction. Circling back then to hope and rejoicing.
In everything, pray. That is the way to abide and bear good fruit.