"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

A Dynamic Of Prevailing Prayer

By Arthur Wallis

    There are conditions of prayer to which God has pledged Himself to respond. The New Testament contains several of these principles, and any one of them, if obeyed, will ensure that the prayer prevails. The first requires that we pray in the position of abiding.

What Is Abiding?

    "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). The Lord Jesus had told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to them. "In that day," He said, "ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (John 14:20). In other words, the Spirit would reveal to them the true significance of the Son being "in the Father," and that they were similarly in Him, and He in them. What He meant by being "in the Father" is fully unfolded throughout the Gospel of John.

    The Father was His whole source and sphere of life. He had not come of Himself, but had been sent by the Father (John 7:28; 8:42). He had no teaching or words of His own, but spoke the words given Him by the Father (John 7:16, etc.). He could do nothing of Himself, only what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). His very life depended on the Father (John 6:57). He ever sought, not His own will or glory, but the Father’s (John 5:30; 8:49). Because He chose to be limited by the Father’s will, dependent on the Father’s resources, seeking the Father’s glory, He could truly declare, "I am in My Father."

    To abide in Christ is to maintain in principle the same relationship toward Him that He maintained toward the Father. "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). This means firstly, a life of submission in which we gladly consent to the limitations of "that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:2). We accept a bondage which we find to be perfect freedom. We pray, "Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free." This was truly His life who said, "I delight to do Thy will, O my God" (Psa. 40:8); and again, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 4:34). It must be ours also if we would abide.

    Then it must be also a life of renunciation of ourselves, our abilities, our resources. We have to come to the place of weakness and emptiness that His strength may be made perfect in us. This is the place of abiding. He is the vine, we are the branches. The vine has everything, the branch has nothing. "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself…so neither can ye" (John 15:4). This fact, obvious to the mind, does not easily sink down into the heart. Through the bitter experiences of failure we have to learn the lesson.

    Hudson Taylor said that when God decided to evangelize Inland China, He looked around to find a man who was weak enough for Him to use. The attitude of self-renunciation characterized the life of the Saviour. "The Son can do nothing of Himself" (John 5:19, 30); "My teaching is not Mine" (John 7:16); "neither have I come of Myself" (John 8:42). We are called to follow Him. "Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33).

    Finally, abiding involves a life of faith which looks to Christ for all, and finds its all-sufficiency in Him. Alongside the statement of Christ, "Apart from Me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5), we must put Paul’s triumphant declaration, "I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). The Saviour revealed that His was a life of faith in dependence on the Father, when He said, "I live because of the Father" (John 6:57). But He also declared, "Because I live ye shall live also" (John 14:19), and this requires the same attitude of faith that possessed Him. Paul set forth the true life of renunciation and of faith when He said, "I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me…I live by faith, the faith of the Son of God [Darby], who loved me, and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). This is truly the abiding life.

His Words Must Abide in Us

    As well as abiding in Him, the condition requires that His words abide in us. These He had earlier described as "spirit and life" (John 6:63), that is full of divine energy and life-giving power. It is impossible to embrace those life-giving words without experiencing their spiritual and moral force.

    Christ had to say of some, "My Word hath not free course in you" (John 8:37). They rejected both Him and His message, to their own eternal disaster. Others accepted the message joyfully, but did not allow it to root fully in their hearts, so that the new growth withered in the hour of persecution; or they allowed it to be choked by worldly cares, and so to become unfruitful. These received the Word, but did not allow it to abide in them. There were those, however, who allowed His Word to make its home in their hearts, to take deep root, and to spring up in spiritual fruitfulness. "They have kept Thy Word," He said of them to the Father (John 17:6). His words had already begun to abide in them, doing their quickening and fertilizing work.

    There may be different grades or degrees of abiding according to our spiritual understanding and development. The principle, however, does not change. When we can say from the heart, "To me to live – Christ" (Phil. 1:21), we are surely abiding in Him, and this gives us a position of authority with God in prayer. So long as we fulfil the condition, as it is revealed to us, the Lord is pledged to answer whatever prayer we offer. So long as we abide in Christ, and His words abide in us He can safely trust us with a blank cheque drawn on the bank of heaven. "Ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

    In His holy humanity the Saviour’s prayers were never refused by God, because He was ever abiding in the Father. "Father," He prayed, "I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always" (John 11:41-42). Seeking neither His own will nor His own glory, but ever the Father’s, He had only to ask in order to receive. We shall be trusted in the same way when we fulfil the same condition. When the Father knows that it will be in His interests and for His glory that a certain petition is fulfilled, He cannot but respond to it. Such petitions ever flow from the life that abides in Christ.

    – Taken from In The Day Of Thy Power by Arthur Wallisby permission of the publisher, Cityhill Publishing, Columbia, MO 65203 U.S.A.