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If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. -- John 15:7-8

 

Books about prayer promises are popular. "Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." Who wouldn't buy into that?

 

But like all promises in the Bible, this one has a context - and the context of this promise is fruitfulness. Six times in the first 8 verses of John 15, Jesus mentions fruit or fruitfulness. And he comes back to it in verse 16.

 

God longs to answer our prayers - but the condition for that in this passage is that we remain in Jesus, and his words remain in us.

 

I find myself missing the mark in two different ways when I think about the kind of prayer talked about in this passage - the kind of prayer that comes from remaining in Christ and has as its goal God's glory.

 

First, some of my prayer life is too taken up with the "whatever you wish" part. My prayers can be more about what I'm hoping for than about what I think will bring glory to God. To be sure, providing for His children does bring glory to God - but only if that provision results in our praise back to him. When I forget to be thankful, when I take for granted the many blessings (see my previous blog post for a few examples), then God's meeting my needs and his fulfillment of my desires becomes all about me, and doesn't bring him glory.

 

The second one is even harder for me. When I do pray for God to be glorified, when I ask him for courage and perseverance for the Persecuted Church, when I pray for the Gospel to go to the unreached, when I plead for a returning of my country to values based in his word - I often pray these things knowing that it's God's will to do them and knowing that it's his will for me to pray for them, but without enough faith to actually believe they're going to happen in a meaningful way. Though I long to see God glorified, I often fall into the trap of looking around me and believing what I see with my physical eyes rather than what I could see with the eyes of faith.

 

Fruitful prayer is not just about remaining in Christ - though it starts there. It's also about believing in God's answers and knowing that he does indeed respond to bring glory to himself. Faith tells me that my prayers for the advancement of God's kingdom are indeed being answered - even if my natural eyes don't see it.

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Comment by Malva Birch on February 2, 2018 at 10:22am

Andrew, a lot of my personal unbelief has to do with impatience.

I believe, but when I don't see (immediate) results, I start to wonder and then doubt - maybe I didn't pray hard enough, or the right way, or maybe there is sin in my life. All those may be true and I need discernment and to work with the Lord to solve those. But now that I am in my sixties and look back, I can see so many things that I thought would never happen, did indeed happen, in spite of my unbelief or little faith. It just took more time than I wanted to wait. In my case, definitely impatience and the need for perseverance.

Ps 62: 1-2, 5-8 NLT (The Psalmist repeat the words to affirm the message)

1I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him.

2He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.

5Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.

6He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

7My victory and honor come from God alone.

8O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.

May God strengthen our faith, encourage us and may the Spirit of the Lord work out His patience and perseverance in our lives. Please Lord!

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