It is not unusual for Christians to pray. What is unusual is to see regular, positive answers to our prayers. Many believers have opted for a prayer life in which dramatic answers from heaven are rare. Though that seems to satisfy many, it doesn’t fall in line with the teachings of Jesus regarding answered prayer. Five times in John 13-17, Jesus seems to offer answered prayer to Christians as a mark of their walk with Him. The passage above from John 15 is one such instance. “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (v. 7). That’s pretty clear language. Jesus opens the door wide for Christians to expect to see amazing answers to their prayers.
Of course, it’s absolutely imperative that we not pull this verse out of context. The Lord gives this promise of answered prayer to those who will fulfill the condition of remaining in Him and allowing His words to remain in us. With that condition fulfilled, the amazing promises of prayer begin to be realized.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:1-8).
Another way of translating “remain” is “abide” or “dwell.” Thinking of this in terms of living with Christ is helpful to me. Too many of us fail to grasp hold of the promise of Jesus that He and the Father would come and make their home with us –”If you remain in Me and My words remain in you…” (v. 7). God dwelling with us, and we dwelling with God. There is an intimacy, a closeness that can be achieved in this world as we draw near to God.
Let me try to give an extended personal paraphrase of what I believe Jesus is saying to us. I think He is saying, “I want you to walk through this world in such close intimacy with Me, that it is as though you were walking through My house with Me. In My house you will see the things that please Me and how I desire things to be ordered. You will continually hear My words and know what is on My heart. If you will live like that, you will be so in touch with My will that you will be able to ask Me for anything, and I will do it for you.”
What an amazing promise from our Lord! Not a superficial granting of any request we desire, but instead an invitation to walk in such intimacy with Him that He allows us to participate in His plans and purposes by praying His agenda. The exciting point for us is that He is inviting every single one of His followers to dwell (remain) with Him and be a part of His desires and purposes.
If that isn’t exciting enough, do you see why this promise and its fulfillment in our lives are so important? Look again at this passage of Scripture from John 15. Answered prayer has other purposes. It brings glory to the Father and demonstrates that we are a part of His family (v. 8). When we pray and things begin to happen, it shows that we are walking with Jesus and belong to Him. Jesus called it “bearing much fruit.” Bearing fruit is not just an option for the super spiritual. It is for all who follow Jesus.
Jesus equates answered prayer with bearing much fruit. That might be a radical thought for some. We typically think of bearing fruit either as winning people to the Lord or as the maturing process described in Galatians chapter 5 as the fruit of the Spirit. But here in the Gospel of John, Jesus adds another dimension to what it means to bear fruit. When we pray and God answers, that would be a demonstration of God at work and our partnership with Him in prayer is described as bearing much fruit.
I love that Jesus describes this whole prayer encounter as bringing glory to the Father! Prayer is such an awesome act of humility and dependence upon God. Rather than depending upon our hard work and careful strategy and planning, when we pray we entrust the results to the Father, who then receives glory and honor when things begin to change as a result of prayer. This doesn’t mean that our work and planning have no place…but that we realize that ultimately it is the work of God that is lasting and that brings transformation.
Are you bearing much fruit in your Christian walk? Are you seeing God glorified because He is answering your prayers? The life that bears fruit and brings honor to God begins by deciding today to accept the Lord’s invitation to dwell with Him in His house. You may have been a believer for many years, but have been living on the front porch instead of inside the house. You catch glimpses of the Lord, but you’re not dwelling where He is. Come on inside! He’s waiting for His whole family to join Him. Living each day where Jesus is (remaining in Him) will allow us to pray with power and authority and demonstrate to a watching world how amazing our God really is.
If you would like to read more articles by Dave Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com