Prayer is not a monologue, but always a response to God’s prior word, the second leg of a conversation. Faithful prayer speaks back to God as He has spoken to us; faithful prayer prays according to God’s will.
“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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. . . .” (John 15:1-16).
Jesus uses the image of the vine and branches to describe our relationship with Him. He is the vine, the true Israel, and in Him is all life and health. Branches are good for nothing when they are cut from the vine, and can bear fruit only if they stay in the vine.
Jesus therefore urges His disciples to “abide in Me” because outside of Him, we are incapable of doing anything (v. 5). How do we abide in Jesus? We abide in Jesus when His word abides in us (v. 7), and we abide in Him by keeping His’ commandments (v. 10), and particularly His commandment to love one another (v. 12).
Jesus is the model of Christian love, and his love is self-sacrificial. He lays down His life for His friends (John 15:13). We can abide in Jesus only if we obey His commandments, chief of which is the commandment to love one another. Abiding in Jesus requires that we remain in sacrificial communion with other disciples of Jesus, other members of His body, other branches in the vine.
As the Word of Jesus abides in us, and as we keep His word, we become more and more attuned to His desires, purposes, and passion.
As we abide in Jesus, our prayers are more and more specifically conformed to God’s will for us. Which is to say, we become more inclined to pray, in “Jesus’ Name.” By knowing, trusting and holding to His word in fellowship with one another our prayers become a response to all He has promised in His Word.