Power in Prayer
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you (John 15:7).
Genuine disciples do more than just believe what Jesus says. They let Jesus’ words remain in them. Jesus’ words had cleansed them: you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you (15:3). So, Jesus equated remaining in him with remaining in his words. To remain in the word is a mark of real discipleship (cf. John 8.31-32). To remain in the word ‘signifies a settled determination to live in the Word of Christ and by it, and so entails a continual listening to it, meditation on it, holding fast to it, and obeying it (15:7a). As believers hide God’s Word in their hearts and meditate on it, they are in communion with Christ. Remaining in Christ leads to power in prayer. Answered prayer hinges on remaining in Christ. John tells us that we receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight (1 John 3:22).
Answered prayer is a glorious promise related to remaining. This is especially true since Christ’s words are active in the believer’s life guiding his or her prayers. Prayer is essential because it helps us maintain a close abiding relationship with Jesus. Answered prayer is a form of fruit bearing that glorifies God and serves as evidence that we are indeed His disciples (15:8).
The promise of answered prayer presupposes that certain conditions are met. First, prayer that the Lord answers is prayer that has been offered in His name, that is, prayer that is consistent with His will. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:13, 14).
Second, the promise of answered prayer is made only to those who remain in Jesus Christ. Remaining implies intimate knowledge of what Jesus has said and that the words become a vital part of the way a believer lives. So, His words remain in the believer when the believer knows what He said and did, and when the believer allows those words and actions to affect the way he or she lives. By reading and memorizing, we take in God’s Word; by obeying, we indicate that the words remain in us.
Third, Christ’s words remain in the person making the request. The promise of answered prayer comes only to those whose lives are controlled by the specific commands of God’s Word: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Ps. 37:4). Jesus is not promising to gratify every chance whim. But if the redeemed sinner is seeking the Lord’s will in his life, Jesus would grant every request that would help accomplish this end. As for those controlled by sinful, selfish desires, Scripture says:
If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18).
You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).
A. W. Pink explains that Jesus refers here to a life that is “regulated by the Scriptures.” Jesus speaks of his “words,” which refers to “the precepts and promises of Scripture personally appropriated, fed upon by faith, hidden in the heart. . . . It is . . . constant and habitual communion with God through the Word, until its contents become the substance of our innermost beings.”1
We should also examine our heart when we pray. Even sins of the heart will stay the hand of God in our life.
The key to receiving what we want from the Lord is to want what He wants. To have Christ’s words remain in us means that we meditate on them until our conscious natures are saturated and permeated with them, until they become an essential part of us, so that they advise our understanding, provoke our emotions, motivate our wills. When your heart is influenced by the words of Christ, then you can ask whatever you want and it will be done for you —for the simple reason that there will be nothing out of harmony between what you want and what He wants.
Jesus’ model in life and word must permeate the life and words of His followers. Only then, dies praying stops being selfish asking and it becomes aligned with the will and purposes of God in Christ.
1 Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975), 825.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.