If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7 NIV
Seven Reasons Why God Will Not Answer Your Prayers - Part 5
As we consider the fifth reason why God will not answer your prayers, let's take a close look at the statement by Jesus in John 15:7 - If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
There are actually two conditions for answered prayer in this verse - we must remain in Christ and His words must remain in us. We'll discuss the latter in this month's article, and come back to the former next month.
Jesus made many amazing statements, and many of His statements are difficult to understand. F.F. Bruce wrote a book entitled, "The Hard Sayings of Jesus", which contains 70 chapters, each devoted to one particular "hard saying" of Jesus - hard in the sense of hard to understand.
You don't have to think too long to remember some of these "hard" sayings. For example, in Matthew 5:22 we read, "everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (NASB).
Or how about this one: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" (John 5:53-54 NIV). This statement was so "hard" that "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it'. (John 6:60 NIV). Soon thereafter, "many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" (John 6:66 NIV).
I don't think Jesus' statement in John 15:7 is hard to understand. "If my words remain in you" - isn't the meaning of this self-evident? A true believer is characterized by a love for the Word of God, and will regularly spend time feasting on it.
The first adult Bible class I attended at Christ's Church was called "Discovering Spiritual Maturity." This was a great class because it outlined the four essential habits of a disciple: time with God's Word, prayer, tithing and fellowship. I loved the way the first habit was unpacked. We must spend quality time in the Word, and there are at least six ways to do that: hear the Word (through sermons, Bible studies, tapes/CD's, radio/TV), read the Word, study the Word, memorize the Word, meditate on the Word, and apply the Word.
When we practice and develop these six methods of Word-time, we will get a firm grasp on our Bible, and the words of Jesus will remain in us every day. The study guide for this class required the student to trace his own outstretched hand, with each finger and the palm representing one of the Word-time disciplines. Time for self-examination: How are you doing in this area? Is some type of Word-time a part of your daily life? If not, why not? How is the quality of your Word-time lately? Do you hunger and thirst for God, and does God satisfy that appetite when you hear, read, study, memorize, meditate and apply the Bible?
If you find yourself lacking in either the quantity or quality of your Word-time, you will eventually see the consequences - your spiritual health will deteriorate and your zeal for God and His kingdom will diminish. And according to John 15:7, God will not answer your prayers.
Here's a simple exercise to jumpstart your Word-time: Over the next 22 days, read Psalm 119 - one of the most glorious passages in Scripture devoted to the incredible life-changing power of the Word. This psalm is divided into twenty-two eight-verse sections. Read verses 1-8 on Day 1, verses 9-16 on Day 2, etc. If you stick with this, you'll fill your mind with a multitude of reasons to read the Bible -- so don't be surprised if your enthusiasm for God and His Word begins to multiply…Enjoy!
©2008 Wayne Davies used with permission