Monday, January 04, 2016

Day Thirteen - The Promise, Part II


“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” 
John 15:7-8

Yesterday we pondered the fact that Jesus invites us to pray with holy fervency; today we will ponder the fact that he invites us to pray like this about anything and everything. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” And elsewhere, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine). 

How can Jesus invite us into such a broad life of prayer? Isn’t he obligating himself to answer prayers that he does not want to answer? In other words, isn’t he concerned that we will ask for things that are not glorifying to him and good for us and others? The answer to this question would be “yes,” were it not for the conditions that Jesus laid out in the first part of the verse, namely, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you…” 

When these conditions are met, the words of Christ lead us to die to our fleshly desires and whims, and help us to see that the supreme aim in all things is the glory of God. The words of Christ give shape to our souls so that we more rightly understand what is good and right and true and pleasing to the Father, and thus they teach us to pray according to his will. It is as Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind [which happens as the words of Christ abide in us], that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” And when we are able to test and discern what is good and acceptable and perfect, we will pray according to the Father’s will and he will be pleased to answer all of our prayers. 

The words of Christ are like the nutrients of the vine, and prayer is the means by which we suck the nutrients out of the vine. If we pray for poison, our loving heavenly Father will not give it to us, but he might use the occasion to shape us more into the image of Christ. If we pray for the life-giving nutrients of the vine, we should pray earnestly and expectantly, knowing that the Father will grant our requests, not because he is subject to our demands but because he is faithful to his promises. 

Prayer Focus: Pray that the words of Christ will so shape our hearts and lives that we will learn to fervently pray according to the Father’s will. And pray that as we pray according to the Father’s will, he will be pleased to answer from heaven and bear much fruit through our lives, to the glory of his name. 

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