Prayers for Pruning
What is Pruning?
What are the signs that show us we are being pruned?
Is pruning beneficial?
Should we avoid pruning?
And ultimately the question that I am aiming to answer is: should we ask for pruning?
I am coming along this journey with you. As I start this investigation, I have my opinions. However, it is nothing that I have ever studied in depth theologically, and once I come up with questions that I have no theological answer for, I instantly want to know the answer. Thus, this journey starts. The first step that we need to take in answering our questions is to define pruning because the idea of pruning may be foreign to some. This territory is slightly unfamiliar to me as well!
This will be a more philosophical sermon, but don’t let that fact scare you. It is something that we both get to experience, and I am excited to tread in unknown waters. The only way to get to know unknown waters is to go into them! So let’s take this leap together.
I pray that as we begin this study and as I begin researching this topic, Lord that you will consume me, Lord that you will allow me to write only things that glorify you and nothing else. Lord, I pray for every eye that is reading this. Meet them where they are at, Lord, search our hearts, and know us. We love you, God!
In this sermon, we will be discussing the answers to the questions listed above about pruning. I hope that this will shed some clarity on this topic of discussion.
What is pruning?
The KJV definition defines pruning as, “To lop or cut off the superfluous branches of trees, to make them bear better fruit or grow higher, or to give them a more handsome and regular appearance”
John 15:2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit, so they will produce even more.(NLT)
You can see that the Biblical definition lines up nicely. Let’s take a look at an example;
2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 8 I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
At first glance, this passage did not remind me of pruning. However, I think this is an excellent example of constant pruning, which we will discuss later. Paul requests for this “thorn” to be removed. However, the whole point of the thorn is to help Paul realize that God’s grace is completely sufficient in any situation. We don’t even really know what Paul’s thorn is,(But theologians have created many theories, none of which have any evidence.) but we don’t need to know. The point is that the suffering was pruning. This passage also takes care of the 2nd question: the signs of pruning are in “weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ”
Obviously there are more examples that illustrate different types of pruning, but this is just one Biblical example. We do not have time to dig through all of them, perhaps in a later sermon.
John 15:2 the verse that is listed above, answers the 3rd question. is it beneficial, well trees that bear fruit are beneficial, so yes. Pruning is so beneficial, it is the one thing that helps us produce more fruit, our goal is to produce fruit for the kingdom of God, and we need some help in doing that! So yes in short pruning in short is beneficial.
So as I am writing this I feel like I may be giving off a vibe that portrays pruning as this great thing that is so awesome! And yes it is great and beneficial for our faith, however it does not always feel good. it may mean that you lose a job, or a friend, or a family member. Pruning can send you into a state that is scary state. You rarely know what to do, and sometimes you lose all control of the situation. It can be something that you have no influence in and you cannot change the path of the outcome. These are the hardest times and this is when our response is so crucial. Will we hand the situation to God, and allow His hand to work in the situation, or will we try to take control of something that we just can’t. Will we remain bitter and try to fix things that we can only make worse. these are the times when our endurance is tested, this is when we need to rely on God. There will be moments when we don’t want to pray, there will be moments when we don’t want to read our Bible, in these moments we need to choose God, no matter the situation. When we don’t choose God, we choose ourselves, which is making a old claim, saying that we know more than God, making ourselves God. Obviously we are not God, so why should we put ourselves ahead of Him? It makes no sense, like none whatsoever. Don’t expect it to be easy and don’t expect to be able to get through it outside of God, when we tell ourselves that we overcame a difficulty on our own, we are deceiving ourselves in 1 of 2 ways, either the difficulty has barely begun, or it was not a prune and didn’t produce any fruit for God, only poisonous fruit, such as pride.
Can We Avoid Pruning?
I think that the best way to answer this question is through the story of Jonah!
Jonah 1: The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
*PHILISOPHICAL STUFF AHEAD*
I am sorry about making you guys read that entire chapter, but it was probably good for you. A lot of us know the “story” but have we read the text? That is a discussion for a later date.
Jonah was avoiding a situation that he knew was going to prune him, but he didn’t want to go into this difficult situation that God called him to. However, in the process of Jonah trying to avoid pruning, it caused him to go into a situation that pruned and disciplined him even more. While trying to avoid God’s will, Jonah was led into a season of even more pruning.
In our attempt to avoid pruning, we try to get out of God’s will, which can not happen. We can not escape the will of God; it is inevitable. Look at Jonah, he tried to escape what God had planned for him to do, and in his attempt of trying to escape, God’s will was still accomplished. Therefore, in short, we can not get out of God’s will, it is in God’s plan that we will be oppressed and we will be pruned. We cannot escape it. This applies to true born-again Christians, who are able to produce good fruit. People who are not born again are unable to produce fruit, therefor , they cannot be pruned, but they can be cut off. The scripture is clear on heart hardening, and branches that produce no fruit can be cut off. (Not going to dive into this right now)
Can we ask for pruning?
Sanctification – set apart as or declare holy; consecrate
Now from the point of salvation, sanctification begins but is not complete until we are made holy, in eternal life. We are continuously being sanctified throughout the Christian life, and the way we become more sanctified, is to become more like God and produce more fruit. AND HOW DO WE PRODUCE FRUIT? Through pruning.
1st Thessalonians 5:23-24 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
So if it is the will of God to sanctify us, and to become more and more sanctified we need to be pruned, I firmly come to the conclusion that we can asked to be pruned. However if we are true born again Christians we will be pruned regardless of the fact that we ask or not.
I also just want to warn you of that prayer, it can hurt, you may not realize what you are getting yourself into, asking God to take control of your life and possibly take a lot of your earthly things scares a lot of people. God prunes us for reasons, we are growing closer and closer to God through every thing that we go through. I have prayed that prayer and God has answered in ways bigger than I expected, there are a lot of similar stories, but the end result is one that glorifies God in the end and one that draws us closer to our merciful Father who loves us so intensely!
So in conclusion, I would say asking for pruning is a big step in faith and you are asking God to do some major things in your life! Endurance is one of the things that shows that we are saved, you see not all pruning is an overnight process, and can take months years, to life times to get through!
Dear God, thank you for your guiding hand in this study! Lord I pray that if anything was said or taken way out of context, or if anything doesn’t point to you Lord, let it fall to dust. Lord I thank you for your hand in my life! I pray that you bless everyone reading and guide them on this journey that you want to push us closer and closer to you.