“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
A conditional answer
We have looked at numerous passages that tell us that God what give us what we ask of him. Yet many Christians ask God and do not receive. Therefore there must be a problem. The problem either lies in our understanding of scripture, the problem lies in us in general, or the problem lies with God.
The truth is, God has placed conditions on having our prayers answered. In John 15:7, the condition of remaining in God is placed.
Consider what Andrew Murray writes:
How many prayers bring no answer? The cause must be either that we do not fulfill the condition, or God does not fulfill the promise. Believers are not willing to admit either, and therefore have devised a way of escape from the dilemma. They put a qualifying clause into the promise that our Savior did not put there – if it is God’s will. This maintains both God’s integrity and their own.Do you agree with this?
God’s Word Grows
As we mature as Christians, our understanding of God’s word grows. A passage of scripture may mean something different to us than it did before. God’s word does not change, nor does the context of the passage but as we understand more and more, we gain a deeper insight into the passage.
Give an example of how your understanding of a passage has changed over the years.
We may currently remain in Christ (KJV uses the word “abide” which I actually prefer here) but that relationship can be strengthened no matter how strong it already is. You may have a strong relationship with your sibling or your spouse but twenty years from now, that relationship may be even stronger than you ever realized it could be. Simply put, God doesn’t answer our prayers at times because we are not ready for it even if we have fully put our faith in Him that He will. It is not a matter of God’s will, but a matter of our relationship with Him. We can have a strong relationship but God wants it to be stronger.
Steps to Abiding
The first step towards abiding in Christ is that of a new believer. It is the step of faith. We must believe in what God can do. But just like one can abide in Christ as a new believer and abide more as a mature Christian, our faith grows the longer that we abide in Christ.
How has your faith grown since you became a Christian?
Next lesson will cover more steps to abiding and will delve deeper into how the condition of abiding in God affects our prayers.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer