“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you … Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:7, 16).
Here we have a wonderful promise for those who truly abide in Christ, that is, their prayers will not only be heard but will be answered too. Those who constantly abide in Christ know His will, so therefore will not ask for anything that is contrary to this, and will find the promise continually being fulfilled throughout their lives.
This “whatsoever” is conditional, for the “if” informs us that we must “abide in” Christ before the promise can be applied. There is a great need on dependence upon the Lord in every aspect of our lives. If we are unwilling to commit ourselves fully to Him we cannot expect, because we do not have the faith, to receive anything from God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Those who suggest that God answers prayers unconditionally are being dishonest with the Scripture. “When I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not” (Isaiah 65:12). Are we willing to do whatsoever the Lord asks of us? If so, He will do whatsoever we ask of Him.
Notice that answer to prayer is directly connected to bringing “forth fruit.” This means that there must be obedience on our part. This obedience may not involve powerful ministry, but it does call for constant and uninterrupted dedication to the Lord in our daily lives. Obedience always receives its reward, to say that God rewards those who constantly disobey are guilty of dishonouring and disrespecting Him.
Believers must pray. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). How can we pray to God if we do not trust Him enough to commit our lives completely to Him? Prayer is more than saying religious words, which are usually meaningless and trivial most of the time, but the vocalisation of the heart’s dedication to the Lord. This does not mean that only the perfect obtain answers to prayer, for then nobody could effectively pray and be heard. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:16-18).
How many there are who seek the fulfilment of this promise without abiding in God’s will! They are soon disappointed by unanswered prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). But those who ask according to His will are blessed with the joy of answered prayer. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Those who truly abide in Christ are never guilty of asking for that which satisfies their carnality, and if God would give them their desire, it would destroy their relationship with Him. “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:13-15). If we are firmly rooted in Christ we will automatically be living according to His will and in the most powerful faith possible. Notice that if God’s word abides in our hearts, then prayer is answered. Therefore those who serve Him need never fear asking God for anything that is legitimate. “This indwelling of His words in them would secure the harmony of their askings with the divine will” (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown). “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). If we are going to ask then let us do so with this kind of faith. “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
Let us note the involvement of the Husbandman in all of this. He planted the Vine and expects the Branches to produce fruit to glorify Him; therefore will He not give each branch exactly what it needs to do so? It would reflect badly upon Him if He let a branch wither and die if He did not provide the sustenance it cried out for. Answered prayer glorifies God too.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united, but we can share in that unity by abiding in Christ, obeying His word and praying in faith. It has always been Christ’s work to bring us to the Father. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6) … “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5), and it is the reason why He taught us to pray, “Our Father ……” (Matthew 6:9-15). The Father delights to answer the prayers of those who have dedicated their lives to Jesus. “At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:26-27). We have direct access to the Father through the Son, but what if we are not abiding in Him?
Prayer only become lifeless when we stop abiding in Christ, but it never has to get to such a low level. If Christ has chosen us to bring forth fruit, then it is certain that He has chosen to answer our prayer too. If we are abiding in Him then prayer will be the most supernaturally natural thing in our lives.