7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:7-9
My friend Jessi connected all the dots for me on these verses and her insights have had a real impact on my thinking regarding God and prayer.
First of all, John tells his readers, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is an amazing promise, and one that Christians need to hold onto, but this is not a wholesale pouring out of answered prayer to everything we ever ask for. The answered prayer only comes to those who remain (abide KJV) “in Christ” and allow His words to remain in them.
Secondly, it seems clear that our prayers are answered when we pray in harmony with God’s will and we are able to know God’s will because we abide “in Christ” and are guided by His word in our heart. This of course is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
I think, John is simply telling us that when we abide “in Christ” we will pray for right things from right motives and not from our own selfishness and greed. “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” James 4:2-3
Notice that the problem of unanswered prayer isn’t that God doesn’t want to answer our prayers. It’s that sometimes our prayers are just wrong because they are more about our own pleasure than streaming from our abiding in Christ. Someone once wrote, and I paraphrase, that if God answered all our short-term prayers like we wanted Him to, and we could look down the road at where those prayers would ultimately lead, we would be horrified.
Thirdly, It is through God answering our prayers that He receives glory. “This is to my Father’s glory” not only points forward to bearing much fruit and showing ourselves to be disciples, but it points back to prayer. (v. 7-8)
In the book of Exodus Moses cries out to God, “I pray thee, show me thy glory,” (33:18) and God answers, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name, The LORD; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (33:19)
The glory of God is His goodness and that goodness is manifested many different ways to us, and one of those ways is through answered prayer. Think back in your own life to the times you prayed for something or someone and God graciously and mercifully answered and how filled with awe and love you were. This is one of the great ways that God is glorified that when our prayers are answered, we worship and rejoice in His goodness.
Fourthly, God answers prayers because He loves us. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9) God loves to answer our prayers when we pray in harmony with what is good for us. He will not give us what we request if our prayers are out of selfishness and egoism, because those fulfilled requests would only harm us.
David reminds us of the goodness of God, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him to all who call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
So, what is legitimate to pray for that fulfills David’s directive to come to God “in truth”? We are to approach God in prayer with an honest, open and believing heart. The goal of all prayer should simply be, “thy will be done” Father, and not, “my will be done” regardless of God’s will for us. Reading the Bible there seems to be two major categories or areas of prayer that Christians should pray for. We are to pray for inner peace and all that encompasses, and to be used by God in ministry.
Inner peace entails prayer for health, God’s leading, protection of family members, thankfulness of salvation, praising Him for all the blessings of life and the list goes on. It is our personal relationship with God that allows us to pour out our heart in praise, love, petition and worship.
We are also to pray for God to use us effectively in ministry. That might mean responding to a spiritual impression God has given you, or prayer for your neighbors, or being motivated to serve in an outreach project. Through prayer God reveals the direction He wishes for our life and unfolds His plans for us.
You can see how far removed a prayer is when asking for a home in Bermuda and 10 million dollars in the bank from the prayer of asking God for direction in your life. Prayer is about knowing God personally, interceding for things that are important to you and God. However, if it is important to God and His plan for your life that you have a home in Bermuda and 10 million dollars in the bank He can make it happen, but it will be for a purpose. This is where discernment comes into play.
We will know that we are praying in harmony with God’s will when we are praying in harmony with the Bible’s leadings and directives. If you have a decision to make that is of great importance, then seek God’s will through the Bible. The Spirit will lead and guide you to passages that have an impact upon the decision you have to make. Next take the time to meditate or contemplate what God has revealed to you and think it through, and ask yourself what God is revealing to you that impact the decision you have to make.
It is after you have allowed the Spirit to open your mind to what God has to say on the topic that you take your request to God. Tell Him exactly what the situation is and what you feel needs to be done and ask for His guidance in the decision even if it means overriding what you want.
How do you know that God has heard your prayer and what His answer is for you? You wait and allow the Spirit to walk you through the answer step by step. Our biggest problem with prayer is that we pray for something, jump up off our knees and then go do what we think we should do without really waiting on God to reveal His plans to us. Waiting on God might mean minutes or days, but God will bring before us, if we are patient and trusting, the answer to our prayers.
The Father’s glory is revealed in His love of answering prayers that are good for others and us. No wonder the Bible is filled with praise for the goodness of God.
* Many people around the globe are currently experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death, for the love of their God. These people know pain and suffering. They need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…