It was a Saturday afternoon, and my friend and I found ourselves seated at our local Panera Bread. After catching up for some time, I decided to share with my friend how things have been going on the road. I confessed that despite my best efforts, I still found it difficult to love as I should. She paused for a moment and directed my attention to John 15:5, which reads, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I sat there for a moment and it hit me. It is impossible for me to love as I ought or to do my duties with charity and excellence apart from Christ.
The surrounding context of John 15:5 refers to Jesus Christ as the vine and us as the branches. He commands that we always “abide in Him” and promises that he will “abide in us.” To ensure that I go about my day abiding in Him, I have to begin by uniting myself to Jesus in prayer. When I pray, I am reminded of the truth that Jesus died for me, that he gave himself fully to me, and that he empowers me to live the Christian life.
In the busyness of life, and the temptation of the snooze button, morning prayer doesn’t always happen. When I don’t take the time for my personal morning prayer, I fail to allow myself to be united with Jesus, I fail to “abide in Him.” My actions fail to reflect His love, situations affect me differently, and I am more easily irritable. In short, it’s harder for me to love.
When I heard my friend’s encouragement to never separate myself from Christ, I knew that I could no longer let things get in the way of my morning prayer time. I could no longer let the world get in between me and Jesus, because apart from him I can truly do nothing.
In moving forward with the advice of my friend, I began setting only one alarm in the morning, deciding to make the choice to meet Jesus in the early hours of the morning before beginning my day. In making this small change to my life, I can see all of the fruits from this change that are becoming apparent in my life, my ministry, and the life of our NET team.
Although it was through my friend that I was struck by this challenge for change, it was through the initial five weeks of missionary training with NET that I was faced with the challenge of daily personal prayer. During NET training, all of the staff stresses how vital to our lives and our ministry it is that we maintain a personal relationship with Jesus, which is fostered and deepened through daily personal prayer every morning. Receiving this instruction from the wisdom of the NET staff was an asset in moving forward, but NET takes it one step further and teaches us exactly how to maintain this personal prayer life so that we are able to move forward. Through the method of prayer that my fellow 180 missionaries and I were fostering during training, we have all been able to learn what it means to encounter God through the Living Word of Scripture each morning, what it means to have a vulnerable relationship with a God who endlessly loves us, and how to live out our faith. The instruction we were abundantly receiving during August has continued to push our ministry and team to thrive.
Since implementing this practice of daily prayer into our lives here on Team 13, we have all been able to see how we are being drawn deeper into abiding in Him and how that greatly impacts those around us. Encountering Christ and His truth in the Bible gives us the necessary skills, wisdom, and authenticity that is vital to sharing the Gospel message with the students here at Providence Academy. In taking an extra 40 minutes to pray and attempt to understand God for who He is instead of sleeping in, we can see how we are able to know God more deeply and share His heart with the hearts of all those we encounter. By aligning our day with personal prayer in the morning and following the truth stated in John 15:5 that, “apart from me you can do nothing,” we as NET missionaries are beginning to understand what it means to abide in Jesus Christ, and how that is to be lived out. By taking the time to pray, we are striving to keep the Gospel central in our lives, so that we might better live out our call as NET missionaries for the next 9 months. Moreso, we are striving to keep the Gospel at the center of our lives so that we might always live to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and the Gospel message. That we might better, “Challenge young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church.”
Know of our prayers for you, and may you be encouraged to encounter God through prayer and Scripture as well!
NET Team 13