Abiding and Prayer

What would you do if someone offered to give you whatever you asked? Very few of us would answer, “no thanks!” Are you kidding!? We would jump at the chance to get whatever we wanted!

Did you know that Jesus has made us a similar offer? Take a look at the verse of the week for The River Church:

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Every time I read that verse my attention is immediately drawn to the words, “and it will be done for you.” That’s an awesome promise! I want God to do whatever I ask, don’t you? But before we start sending our Christmas list to “The Big Guy Upstairs,” let’s take a closer look at this promise.

In John 15, Jesus used the illustration of a vine to describe his relationship with his disciples. A vine nourishes and supports the branches. It gives them life and helps them to bear fruit. The branches are attached to the vine and remain in the vine—they “abide” in the vine. If they are removed from the vine they stop growing and bearing fruit. If they stop bearing fruit, they are pruned away to make room for branches that are bearing fruit.

Jesus said that he is the true vine. His followers are the branches. His followers will only grow and bear fruit if they “abide” in him. Bearing fruit was a big deal to Jesus. In one parable he described seed thrown on various types of soil. The only good soils were the ones that “bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:20). Bearing fruit is more than just developing godly character. For the follower of Jesus, bearing fruit means reproducing more followers of Jesus!

What does all this “bearing fruit” talk have to do with receiving whatever we ask from God? Jesus said, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is a great promise, but it is a conditional promise. Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you” (emphasis added). God will answer our request if we abide in Jesus and if his words abide in us. Our challenge is to actually abide in Jesus. Abiding is not a one-time thing. It is a process. A long process. Bearing fruit is not like taking a trip to the grocery store. It takes months and seasons and years. It takes time but the results are worth it: “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Abiding means growing in our relationship with Jesus through knowledge and obedience. As we get to know him through daily Bible reading and meditating and prayer, we understand God and his ways for us through Jesus. We obey what God reveals to us in the Bible and experience grace and increased faith as we do so. Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10). When we do what Jesus told us to do, abiding takes place. It is a simple plan, but its effects are eternally satisfying. Abiding will never get old!

As we learn to abide, we will find that whatever we wish will look a lot more like God’s will for us. And his will will be done. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

Abide, bear fruit, ask for more. It will be done for you.

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When they hate you …

Want to know what to pray when you’re hated or treated with contempt?

The psalmist suggests the following prayer:

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

How might God change you through this prayer? What difference would it make for you to express this kind of confident trust in God for all he’s done for you?