Last week, we looked at Christ’s call for us to “abide” in Christ and for Christ’s words to abide in us. This concept of abiding is so important for the Christian life – Jesus uses the word 12 times in John 15. Given that the context of this passage was the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed, it is clearly something that was both important and urgent for the disciples.
And the call to abide remains urgent and important for us today as well.
Following the call to abide, it appears that Jesus goes on to give another command, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8)
However, a better translation of Jesus’ words is, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be called my disciples.”
In other words, Jesus isn’t commanding us to ask. He is asking us to abide so that, when we ask, our desires will be in line with God’s will.
What Jesus is actually saying is, “As you abide in me and my words abide in you, your priorities, your will, you desires will come more into line with mine.”
This is in contradiction to much of the teaching about prayer today from many preachers, who want to tell us that if we just have enough faith, God will give us what we want. But that’s “low-balling” prayer. Prayer isn’t just about telling God what we want – it’s about us hearing from God about what He wants.
Jesus says elsewhere in the Upper Room “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
While God welcomes us to give all our cares over to Him and to not be anxious, there is a deeper side to prayer, which is to ask God to change us and mould us to be more like Jesus. I am constantly amazed at this concept that the King of the Universe is so invested in us that He still speaks to us today.
God is constantly at work, in us. In fact, Paul says,
“he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).
So, let this inspire your prayer life to move beyond just asking for what you want. Start to ask God, “Speak into my life Lord. Show me what You want me to know.”
3 ways we can move into this place of transformation are:
- Read the Bible regularly. It’s the primary way God speaks to us;
- Pray God’s way – not just asking but also listening and sitting in silence;
- Contribute to the community of God’s people by showing honesty, openness, transparency and love.
As we abide in Christ, He changes us. As we let His words abide in us, we come more into line with Him. As Paul says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)