Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why Must We Ask of Jesus in Prayer? Part II

In John 15:7-8, Jesus promised, “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” (emphasis mine). Last week we saw that this promise assumes something very basic but extremely important, namely, that we must ask of Christ in prayer or our prayers cannot be answered. I see at least eight reasons why Jesus commands us to ask of him, three of which I shared last week. Specifically, I said that we must ask of Jesus in prayer (1) because he commanded us to do so, (2) because we’re in a relationship with him and communication is key to the health of any relationship, and (3) because it teaches us childlike dependence upon him. This week I will add two more reasons. 

Fourth, we must ask of Jesus in prayer because having to form specific requests teaches us how to think, feel, and ask like him. As good and necessary as it is to read, study, and even memorize the Bible, it’s even better to press on from the reception of truth to the articulation of it. We know that we’ve come to understand something when we’re able to accurately repeat it in our own words. For the Christian, this journey from reception to articulation begins in prayer when we speak God’s truth back to him from our hearts. As we do this, our Father further refines our prayers until they more perfectly align with his truth, and when they align with his truth he grants an answer for his glory and our joy. But even when the answer comes, the deeper work of God in us is that he’s using this process to transform into the image of his Beloved Son until we think, feel, and ask like him. 

Fifth, we must ask of Jesus in prayer because learning to speak to God teaches us how to counsel and bless others. When the Word of Christ dwells in us richly—when it teaches us and guides our thoughts, feelings, and actions; when it molds the words we speak to God in prayer—then we come to a true understanding of it and an ability to teach and admonish one another, to instruct and correct one another according to the will and ways of our Father. As we learn to speak to God, we learn to speak to one another in such a way that he is exalted and we are helped by his wise counsel and our mutual love. 

Prayer Focus: Pray that Jesus will persuade us that we must ask of him in prayer, and that he will teach us to actually do so day by day. Pray that he will teach us how to form and articulate our thoughts and affections in such a way that he will be glorified, that he will be pleased to answer our prayers, that others will be blessed, and that our joy in him will be increased.

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