JOHN 15:7-8: “But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Have you ever hungered for a deeper prayer life? Would you like to see your prayers powerfully answered each time? Why were Jesus’ prayers always answered?
The key to answered prayer is not as difficult to discover as some may think.
Jesus’ disciples watched Jesus daily perform miracles. They witnessed Jesus breaking away to be alone in prayer with the Father. When He returned, they watched as He cast out demons, healed the sick, and fed thousands. At different times they would cry out – “Lord, increase our faith!”, and “Lord, teach us to pray!”. They wanted to understand the key to Jesus’ prayer life.
If we are all honest we have had times when our prayers were not answered. James tells us that many times we pray incorrectly, only to focus on our passions and needs. Whatever the case, we all have missed the mark in prayer. We have witnessed God’s hand in powerful answers to our prayers and we have shared in the disappointment of prayers that have seemed to go unanswered. Why is this?
In John chapter 15 Jesus uses the example of the vine and the branches to explain our relationship with the Father through Him. Jesus is the vine, the Father is the vine keeper, and we are the branches. The purpose of the vine is to bear fruit. The Father prunes the branches so that the dead, unproductive parts of the vine, are removed and the healthy stems can flourish. Here is where we begin to understand the key to answered prayer.
God uses His Word to prune our lives!
- “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” John 15:1-3 NLT
Note that Jesus proclaims that it was the message He had given the disciples that had been used by the Father to prune their lives. Jesus came to proclaim and to clarify the will of the Father. Many times He said, “You have heard…but I say unto you…”. Life is a journey that we enter without a map. We can wander endlessly relying on trial and error, only to find ourselves hopelessly lost. Or, we can use that map of life that we have been given to lead us to our divine destiny.
This is true in life and it is true in prayer!
So many times we miss the prerequisites of our faith. These are not works that unlock God’s provision. Rather, they are the positioning of our hearts so that we can receive God’s grace and be transformed by the Spirit of God. There is a big difference between the two. One relies on our human effort. The other falls fully upon the grace and mercy of God! Jesus calls us to the latter.
- “But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”
The question that arises is – “How do I abide in God’s Word?” Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you…”. So, abiding in God’s Word has two components. We must abide in Jesus (in His love, His presence) before we can abide in His Word. God’s Word is never meant to be a textbook of promise verses through which we manipulate God to do what we desire. God’s Word is given as the expression of God’s love to us that we are meant to meditate upon and allow to change us from the inside out!
- “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT
As we read God’s Word as His love letter to us, as we allow it to speak to our hearts, it brings us to a place of repentance, change, and then action. God’s Word alone can discern between the thoughts and intentions of our heart. When we are laid bare before the Lord through His Word we feel the loving hand of the vine keeper pruning us so that we can be fruitful in our lives and our prayers. Our focus is turned heavenward. Our requests become the echo of His heart rather than the misguided requests of our selfishness. And, as we abide in this position of prayer we realize that abiding in His Word is not complete without a tangible response.
- “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you…You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:9-12, 16-17 NLT
So, let’s sum it all up. As we abide in Jesus Christ we abide in the Father’s love. The Father, who loves us, prunes our hearts through His Word. As we position our lives under His mercy and grace our hearts and motives are transformed by His Word. We grow in our communion and fellowship with God through His Word and the Holy Spirit and we respond with obedience to His commands. As our hearts are transformed we realize that the greatest call we have is to love God and love others. Our prayers begin to turn heavenward and become more intercession for others than supplication for ourselves. And, we find ourselves agreeing with God’s divine plan and seeing His Kingdom established on earth as it is in heaven.
We begin to see God’s power working as we agree with His purposes in our prayers! We discover the key to answered prayer!
Lord, forgive me for the many times that my prayer life has been self-centered. May my heart be captured by Your Word, Your love, and Your divine purposes. May I begin to pray in agreement with Your will and by Your direction? Help me to produce fruit, lasting fruit, so that I can bring glory to Your Name!
In Jesus Name!