Things to Remember about Prayer - Lesson IX
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you." - John 15:7.
The condition to ask is in abiding in Christ. Thereby only do we have the right to ask and depend on that being done. If one experiences continual prayer, with no answers, then the fault is with us or with God. We put in the condition "if it be Thy will." Thus explaining the lack of answer as being that we don't know God's will.
The lack of such knowledge is only because of our lack of abiding, staying or living in close union with Christ. As the branches receive life from the vine only by being grafted in and the life flowing from the vine into the branches do they have the power to produce fruit, which mainly comes from answered prayer. This life is also found in the living Word of God, as spiritual truth has life and power flowing through it.
So abiding in Christ is an increasing, never-ceasing growth, a life process wherein the spiritual life becomes more important and overwhelming as enlightenment seeks ever more light. All this in spite of lack of faith and the remaining strength of sin, one sees the goal and strives for it. We are drawn to this because of the love, faithfulness, and unlimited power of our Savior. Soon obedience to God's Word is seen as essential to growth, and this builds also increasing faith. Each increases the other. "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."
Yes, we see so much a lack of zeal, and omission of positive action, where Jesus would have acted. Yet, we do not. Is our self still too strong, and resistant? As our inner life opens up to Christ that we increase the capacity of receiving His Spirit, which unites us with Him and with the Father. This union is of choice, in love and power of an eternal life: we in Him and He in us as He is in the Father. That we accept and allow Him to dwell within us, and become the most important motivating force in our life. Pushing aside the old sinful, selfish, self-centered nature. As little children who find their joy in trusting and obeying the love that has given all for them. Within them breathes the Spirit of Christ Who the Father always heard. What they pray to Him, He will do for them.
Let us ever seek the closer abiding, seeking life in the vine as Jesus meant it to be. That is His perfect plan, He lives to give to us, and that we must continue to seek and we shall find, knock and it will be opened, and ask and it shall be given. He will in no wise turn us down or cast us out, but will give, and give, and give. To abide includes obeying His commands to love one another, to do good to them that are against us and so on.
As we obey, also claim the promises. Yield to the teaching of the Holy Spirit as to God's perfect will and pray accordingly. Ask and receive. God, may your light so illumine my soul that my sight will be as Your sight, my will as Your will, and thereby my asking in prayer will be the result of Your giving. To see as You see the needs, to pray as You pray, to receive as You give. Continue to bring to life the power of Your Word that my faith may be strengthened accordingly.
Jesus stressed the answer as the proof of acceptable prayer to the Father. This is the proof of His favor and the value of our fellowship with Him. The servant of the king knows he has favor with His Master when the king has fulfilled the request of the servant. In the Name of Jesus our life should continue to strive for such a relationship with the Father, that our will is attuned to His, our faith strong in His promises and expecting answer to prayer as part and parcel of that abiding relationship which guarantees answered petitions.
Prayer is blessed, but answered prayer is even more so. We must work for His Glory that as part of His work we participate in His blessing to others. As our spiritual sense is increased we see more clearly with the eyes of Christ as to what is needed. We do therefore know more how to pray and what to pray for. Through the Spirit we must pray for what He prays for. We must ask and expect to receive that our joy may be full, that in communion and fellowship with Jesus we pray for what He desires. That is the prayer always answered.
The abiding of His Words. John 15:7. In prayer we speak to the Father. I read His Word, and He speaks to me. The Word of God is the source of faith, in spirit and in truth. It prepares us for prayer by revealing God's will. Prayer should be dialogue, not just us asking. We must listen to the voice of God, even as He has promised to listen to us. How much we have listened to His words will be the measure of the influence my words will have with Him. The truth of His Word will measure the truth and value of my prayer.
The abiding of the Word. God's word reveals what God wants us to pray for. God's word strengthens faith. After prayer God's word brings the answer as the Spirit brings us to hear the Father's voice. Prayer must be a two-way conversation. Listening to His voice is the assurance He listens to mine. How much His words affect me will be the measure of how my words will affect Him. Jesus says that if His words abide in us, whatever we asks will be done unto us.
Before Jesus had said as we abide in Him, so He abides in us. Here He says "and my words in you." His words are the same as He Himself abiding. Our words reveal what is within us, so with Christ. When these words are promises, He gives Himself away. In commands He declares Himself master, demanding obedience, that He expects us to act as His representative. Humans can do this to a limited extent.
God's words have a much greater value and truth and spirit and power. They impart a part of Himself. His love, will, and the power of an everlasting spiritual life. This is beyond our limited comprehension. His word is nothing less than His eternal Son. His words are from the Father, both with life and truth and spirit.
Only by the ability to hear and understand God's word do we perceive how we are to speak words that affect the power of the spiritual world. As we become more aware of and convinced of God's presence with us: that strengthens faith and gives the trust to do God's will according to His word. That includes works of righteousness, the bearing of good fruit. Also this gives us experience in God's fellowship and this pushes out doubt and disobedience and disbelief.
Christ's words must be in us, by repetition, to the point of readily remembered and accepted and believed. Our prayers depend on our daily life and how much God's words – revealing His will and His Son – are an integral part of it.
If I live by what He says, He will do what I say. Stand on the promises, according to His word. This is the basis of all prayer. His will is revealed by His Words. As His word abides more in us, so the promises are more sure of being fulfilled. He must live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This is exercised in daily thought and action. Thus are we more in tune and in fellowship with God Himself.
May we continue to yield both mind and heart to the life of Christ in His word wherein He gives Himself to us in Spirit and in truth. We in our weakness are more occupied with our own words as we pray than how God may be speaking to us. Faith is increased by the increase of the Word made alive in us. We need to be swifter to hear and slower to speak. As His words dwell in our lives, so our words to Him will be heard and answered. May our speaking reflect Christ's speaking to us, even as His speaking was directly from Father. This is the way of our earnest preparation for prayer, every day. Amen.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.