Excerpted from With Christ in the School of Prayer – Andrew Murray (1885).
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” ( John 15:7).
In all God’s intercourse with us, the promise and its conditions are inseparable. If we fulfill the conditions, He fulfills the promise. What He is to be to us depends upon what we are willing to be to Him. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” And so in prayer the unlimited promise, Ask whatsoever ye will, has its one simple and natural condition, if ye abide in me. It is Christ whom the Father always hears; God is in Christ, and can only be reached by being in Him; to be in Him is the way to have our prayer heard; and wholly abiding in Him, w e have the right to ask whatsoever we will, and the promise that it shall be done unto us.
When we compare this promise with the experience of most believers, we are startled by s terrible discrepancy. Who can number up the countless prayers that rise up and 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 into the promise the qualifying clause our Savior did not put there – if it be God’s will; and so maintain both God’s integrity and their own.
Words of Grace for Strength
We have all done it, prayed to the Lord and inserted wording along the lines of, “Lord, if it be in Your will” or something to that effect. Murray seems to be clearly saying that he finds that to be some sort of Christian safety clause or escape hatch; it lets us off the hook if our prayer is not answered, yet as true and faithful believers, we would never dream of putting the Lord on the hook we managed to avoid. Therefore, seemingly unanswered prayer is neatly dealt with and no one is to blame. And if that is so, no one is the wiser for it either.
Murray goes on to talk about the fact that an authentic prayer life requires faith in the Lord, but more than that it also requires obedience to the Lord. But there can still be a feeling of praying falling short, going unanswered in the faithful and obedient believer. True prayer requires that abiding in Christ, that centering on Jesus and living with Him at the center of a life dedicated to Him and following anxiously and obediently after God’s will and purposes for that life.
In the abiding life, the believer will find the boldness to ask in prayer with great specificity and confidence of knowing that prayers are answered because the believer is abiding, and is learning, the true purposes they have as believers in Christ. The abiding believer is only asking for what the Lord desires to give in the first place, so how can one not be bold and confident to begin with?
If you are finding your prayers to the Lord vague and general, that you are offering them up with weakness or timidly, ask yourself if your are truly seeking the Lord, if you are truly looking to abide in Christ. Ask yourself, and be honest with yourself.
And if you cannot do that, turn to and ask God if you are the abiding believer that He desires you to be. Ask Him. For we all know that He will tell us the truth, whether we wish to hear it or not.