“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
God’s Will vs. Free Will
A point of clarification needs to be made in regards to how God answers our prayers. There are times when our prayers are not answered because of lack of faith, a poor relationship, or our inability to remain in Christ. However, there are times when God doesn’t answer our prayers, not through fault of our own or because it is out of God’s will, but because man has free will. When we pray for someone to come to Christ, God can put circumstances in that person’s life to show them their need for God, but He isn’t going to drag them “kicking and screaming” into heaven. Likewise, I can ask God that a certain person would become my wife. God can place circumstances in a person’s life and create opportunities but it will ultimately be the woman’s decision to get married – God should be a part of it, but He wouldn’t force her to marry against her will.
Steps to Abiding
The first step to abiding is that of faith. The newest believer has faith but a mature believer will have a deeper faith and will be able to trust God in all things.
The next step to abiding is obedience. James tells us that faith without works is dead. We do not obey God to earn our salvation or to get in His good grace. We obey God because we love him. Once again, our ability to obey strengthens as we mature as Christians. If we are to obey, we need to know what it is that we are asked to follow. This comes only by the studying of God’s Word.
Note the progression here. Without faith, there will be no obedience. As faith matures, obedience matures as well.
The final part to abiding is love. We do a lot of things because we have been told to do them. Many times we grumble and do them anyway. Love is an addition to obedience. What we do, we should do out of love for God. But this should make us question what love is and how it should be expressed. We do things in church that we have no idea why we do them. Sometimes they are traditions, sometimes the pastor told us to. We need to evaluate our obedience and ask why we do what we do. And if we say it is out of love, we need to understand what love is.
Teenagers are often pressured into having sex under the guise of love. “If you really love me, you should want to express it physically…” Christ said “if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.”
What is love the way God wants?
What things are we obeying that we really don’t know why we are obeying?
How can we do these things with love for God in mind?
Do some things we obey need to be thrown out because it doesn’t have anything to do with love for God?
When we discover that we obey because of love for God and not because of guilt or any other reason, and we pray in faith, we can expect to have our prayers answered. It is at this point that we are abiding in Christ.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer