Recently I was preaching on John 15:5-7 and decided to finish the sermon with a prayer based on verse 7. In the sermon I mentioned that Christian living and Christian ministry are both based on relationship. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In John 15 Jesus told His disciples that they needed to abide in Him as the vine to become fruitful branches. Otherwise they would not bear much fruit. Then He added those chilling words, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” He meant that if they did anything without being in a close relationship with Him it would be of no eternal value.
However Jesus went on to give them the wonderful promise in verse 7,” If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. What a concept! All we need to do is to ask for whatever we want and we will be sure to get it. Really? It just doesn’t seem to work out like that in our everyday experience! Most of us do a lot of praying but we don’t always seem to get what we asked for. Why? Was there something wrong with Jesus’ promise? Certainly not! He is the eternal Son of God. He is THE TRUTH. He did not and could not lie. So what’s the answer?
Look at the 2 conditions Jesus placed on the promise. The first condition was that people needed to abide in Him in order to receive such answers to prayer. Abiding means being focussed on Him, loving Him, adoring Him, praising Him for who He is and for all He has done for humankind (and especially for us personally). It means practising His presence amongst His people. He promised, Mat 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Jesus is always near to His people whether corporately as they meet together or personally with individuals who remain focussed on Him.
The second condition was that His words needed to abide in His people. His teaching is recorded in the Bible for us to read (AND to act on). He said that His words were from the Father, John 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. His words and His works originated from God the Father. His words have divine authority. They must be obeyed. We must base our lives on them. We express our love for Him by obeying what He said. We allow His words to “abide” in us as we focus on them and allow them to shape and transform our lives. We need to absorb them into our being. In the words of the late John Stott (about whom I wrote in a previous article) when he spoke many years ago to a group of Christian nurses in Australia, we need to have “bibline” blood. We need to absorb His word, and let it become part of us. It must influence every part of our lives, especially our thinking and our behaviour. The more we abide in Him and the more we abide in His word, the more we come to know Him and to know His will. The more we know Him and His will, the more likely it is that the promise of Jesus in verse 7 will be fulfilled in us, “… ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”.
Now the prayer based on those words. “Lord I give you all I am and all I have. I want to learn to abide in You for every moment of my life. I want to abide in Your word so that it becomes part of me. As I abide in You and as I abide in Your word, enable me by Your Spirit to pray in such a way that Your promise in John 15:7 is fulfilled in me, ‘Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’ I ask this so that You may be glorified in my life and through my life, in Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN. ”
Blog No.040. Posted by Jim Holbeck. Wednesday 30th August 2011