Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear
much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so
I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments,
you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy
may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
I have often listened to people wrestle with the predicament of unanswered prayer. I’ve wrestled with it myself. I seldom have any answers for why our prayers go unanswered. The heavens can seem made of brass. Yet in today’s scripture Jesus talks about the certainty of answered prayer: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus’ promise here might make us less complacent about many prayers going unanswered. He might make us want to pray more like He prays.
Notice how Jesus connects answered prayer with abiding in Him and His words abiding in us: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” As we read, study, meditate, and let Jesus’ words settle in, we come to share more and move of His mind and will. “An abiding disciple will ask only those things that are in harmony with or subject to God’s will, as Jesus did. The wishes of abiding disciples are the same as Jesus’ wishes.” (Tom Constable, Expository Commentary on John) We will find Jesus’ words beginning to shape our thoughts and desires as we pray.
This is very similar to what Jesus taught earlier in the Upper Room: “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it” (John 14:14). As we compare scripture with scripture we see that to ask in Jesus’ name is more than a tagline at the end of prayers. Rather, to ask in Jesus’ name is to ask as Jesus would ask. And how do we learn to ask as Jesus would ask? By letting His words abide in us. Like a branch drawing life from the grape vine, so we draw our prayers from Jesus. And the Father is glorified when we pray ‘Jesus-kind’ of prayers as they will bear much fruit: “My Father is glorified in this, that you bear much fruit.”
This side of heaven we will have some prayers that seemingly go unanswered. But Jesus longs for us to so live in Him, and His words to so live in us, that we will receive more answers. This is important to Jesus. He says that getting answers to our prayers is essential to our joy: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” This is living the life!
- Have I become too complacent with unanswered prayer? If so, how?
- How might I pray more ‘Jesus-kind’ of prayers?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)