I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15: 5-8
It doesn’t get much straightforward than John 15 does it?
Abiding = fruitfulness / Not abiding = withering
It’s hard to admit it sometimes, but we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. We are not going to be fruitful without that connection, that relationship, that remaining in Him.
Prayer is both a place of abiding, and also a promised fruit of that relationship. We connect with the true vine in the place of prayer, but Jesus also says that answered prayer is an outcome of abiding:
“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 (emphasis mine)
BAM CEO and mentor Peter Shaukat writes, “In establishing an authentic, impactful BAM enterprise, we are establishing a point of light – a city on a hill, if you like – in a spiritually darkened place. We are working with BAM companies that are both viable commercial entities, and intentionally missional and transformational. Where transformation is needed or is a goal of the company, that cannot be achieved without the gifts of the Spirit. We can do nothing apart from Him.”
A BAM practitioner of 16 years shares the following truth, “Sometimes we have tough business decisions to make or difficult situations – and that is where having clear purpose and values, along with specific goals is helpful. Plus it’s good to have things like operational policies and contracts and so on. All of these things are good and essential practice, sort of ‘Business 101’. However, lives being transformed is what we want people to see. This is ‘Fruits of the Spirit 101’, without which the Kingdom culture will never shine through. Can we show the Kingdom in the tough times every day in business? What shows up when the heat is on? I do want to be known as a good business man, however I want to be known more as a businessman who has been transformed by God from the inside.”
Transformation is what we long to see in the people and nations around us. But transformation must surely begin with us, and from a place of prayer. For God first reconciled us to himself through Christ, and then entrusted to us the message of reconciliation as His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5: 18-20). He is transforming us, making us His new creation, and that comes from His Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, 5:17)
Just after the list of ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5, Paul writes, ‘If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit’ v25 – or as the NIV version has it, ‘…let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
How do we keep ‘in step with the Spirit’? As co-workers with the Holy Spirit, what does keeping in step with Him look like in our business life? I suspect that none of us particularly feel like ‘victorious prayer warriors’. The topic of prayer may even stir up feelings of guilt or inadequacy for us. How true Paul’s words are in Romans 7 that we know what we should do, but often we don’t do it! However, Romans 8 follows with the reminder that despite all, the gift of grace and freedom is ours by the Holy Spirit and that nothing can separate us from God’s love. For all our failures, we can always fall back into step with Him.
Prayer and hearing the Lord’s direction, comfort and wisdom must be central to that ‘keeping in step’. Prayer is essential and vital to BAM. Prayer helps us remain in the vine, and as we keep in step with Him we are transformed, we can be fruitful, we are given the ministry of reconciliation as His ‘transformation agents’. We are able to ask whatever we wish in His name and He will answer us.
Prayer consistently comes up as a key fruitful practice for business as mission, but the way prayer is woven and integrated into business looks different for different practitioners. In this upcoming series on ‘Prayer in the Business’ we will share what it has looked like for BAM practitioners to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’ in their missional life and business. We will look at the role of prayer in the planning and birthing stages of a BAM company – how prayer and hearing direction from the Lord has shaped business vision, values and operations. We will also share the daily and weekly prayer habits of BAM practitioners: stories and experiences of how prayer has been central for BAMers around the world.
Check back on the blog regularly this next month to read more about ‘Prayer in the Business’.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
Bible scriptures quoted are in New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise indicated.