Sunday, January 03, 2016

Day Twelve - The Promise, Part I

“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

We come now to that great and astonishing promise of Christ which says, “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The word “ask” in the original language is a strong one. It means to beg, to call for, to crave, to desire, and even to require of the one entreated. That is to say, this word implies great passion, intensity, and fervency in prayer. And indeed, fervency is a necessary aspect of all true praying. Consider these words from the nineteenth-century pastor E. M. Bounds:

“Prayers must be red hot. It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and that availeth. Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere. Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication. It takes fire to make prayers go. Warmth of soul creates an atmosphere favorable to prayer, because it is favorable to fervency. By flame, prayer ascends to heaven. Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat noise. Heat is intensity—something that glows and burns. Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice” (The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, Prince Press, 2000: 35). 

The question is, though, how do we gain such fervency, such fire of soul, such glowing intensity? Answer: we get these things by abiding in Christ and by allowing the words of Christ to abide in us until they saturate our hearts and minds, teaching us how to think and feel. As the words of Christ take root in our lives, the flame of Christ eventually sets our own souls ablaze with love for him and others, and with wisdom for prayer. 

Indeed, it is the Spirit and the words of Christ that both shape and impassion our prayers. They shape our prayers by giving us revelation and wisdom, sight and insight; by renewing our minds and causing us to think God’s thoughts after him, as it were; by transforming our lives so that we die to our ways and live to Christ’s ways. And they impassion our prayers by setting our hearts on fire with the flame of heaven, as the Holy Spirit impresses on our soul the very fervency of Christ and applies to our lives the implications of his words. 

Do you pray with this kind of fervency? If not, Beloved, flee to Christ and spend time with him. All the passion and earnestness you will ever need is there with him. But it will take time. You will have to discipline yourself to deny your flesh and stay with Christ when your flesh would have you fly to work or television or food or 1,000 other things. Abide with Christ, and when he is ready he will set your soul on fire. 

Now, to be clear, sometimes fervency appears as but a flicker and sometimes it appears as a blazing fire. Sometimes a soul aflame is visibly exuberant and sometimes it is visibly calm, peaceful, and quiet. True fervency of soul is not about outward manifestations but about the kind of inward union with Christ, apprehension of Christ, and confidence in Christ that causes one to mean what she is praying. True fervency of soul causes one to ask with intensity, for he has been shaped by the words and will of Christ in the very presence of Christ. 

Prayer Focus: Pray that Christ will cause you to abide in him and cause his words to abide in you so that the fire and fervency of his soul will set your soul aflame. Pray for the perseverance to stay with Christ and listen to him when you would rather fly away.

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