|`Bear fruit, that the Father may give what ye
ask;' Or, Obedience the Path to Power in
not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear
fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask
the Father in my name, He may give it you.'-JOHN xv. 16.
fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.'-JAS. v.
promise of the Father's giving whatsoever we ask is here once again renewed, in
such a connection as to show us to whom it is that such wonderful influence in
the council chamber of the Most High is to be granted. `I chose you,' the
Master says, `and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your
fruit should abide;' and then He adds, to the end `that whatsoever ye,'
the fruit-bearing ones, `shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it
you.' This is nothing but the fuller expression of what He had spoken in
the words, `If ye abide in me.' He had spoken of the object of this
abiding as the bearing `fruit,' `more fruit,' `much fruit;' in this was God to
be glorified, and the mark of discipleship seen. No wonder that He now
adds, that where the reality of the abiding is seen in fruit abounding and
abiding, this would be the qualification for praying so as to obtain what we
ask. Entire consecration to the fulfilment of our calling is the condition
of effectual prayer, is the key to the unlimited blessings of Christ's wonderful
There are Christians who fear that such a statement is
at variance with the doctrine of free grace. But surely not of free grace
rightly understood, nor with so many express statements of God's blessed word.
Take the words of St. John (1 John iii. 22): `Let us love in deed
and truth; hereby shall we assure our heart before Him. And
whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments,
and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.'' Or take the oft-quoted words
of James: `The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth
much;' that is, of a man of whom, according to the definition of the Holy
Spirit, it can be said, `He that doeth righteousness, is righteous even as He is
righteous.' Mark the spirit of so many of the Psalms, with their confident
appeal to the integrity and righteousness of the supplicant. In Ps. xviii,
David says: `The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according
to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me. . . . I was upright before
Him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity: therefore hath the Lord recompensed
me according to my righteousness.' (Ps. xviii. 20-26. See also Ps.
vii. 3-5, xv. 1, 2, xviii. 3, 6, xxvi. 1-6, cxix. 121, 153.) If we
carefully consider such utterances in the light of the New Testament, we shall
find them in perfect harmony with the explicit teaching of the Saviour's parting
words: `If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;' `Ye
are my friends if ye do what I command you.' The word is
indeed meant literally: `I appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit,
that,' then, `whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may
give it you.'
Let us seek to enter into the spirit of what the
Saviour here teaches us. There is a danger in our evangelical religion of
looking too much at what it offers from one side, as a certain experience to be
obtained in prayer and faith. There is another side which God's word puts
very strongly, that of obedience as the only path to blessing. What we
need is to realize that in our relationship to the Infinite Being whom we
call God who has created and redeemed us, the first sentiment that ought to
animate us is that of subjection: the surrender to His supremacy, His
glory, His will, His pleasure, ought to be the first and uppermost thought of
our life. The question is not, how we are to obtain and enjoy His favour,
for in this the main thing may still be self. But what this Being in the
very nature of things rightfully claims, and is infinitely and unspeakably
worthy of, is that His glory and pleasure should be my one object.
Surrender to His perfect and blessed will, a life of service and
obedience, is the beauty and the charm of heaven. Service and obedience,
these were the thoughts that were uppermost in the mind of the Son, when He
dwelt upon earth. Service and obedience, these must become with us the
chief objects of desire and aim, more so than rest or light, or joy or strength:
in them we shall find the path to all the higher blessedness that awaits
Just note what a prominent place the Master gives it,
not only in the 15th chapter, in connection with the abiding, but in the 14th,
where He speaks of the indwelling of the Three-One God. In verse 15 we
have it: `If ye love me, keep my commandments, and the
Spirit will be given you of the Father. Then verse 21: `He that hath
my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me;' and he shall
have the special love of my Father resting on him and the special manifestation
of myself. And then again, verse 23, one of the highest of all the
exceeding great and precious promises: `If a man love me he will keep
my words, and the Father and I will come and take up our abode with him.'
Could words put it more clearly that obedience is the way to the
indwelling of the Spirit, to His revealing the Son within us, and to His again
preparing us to be the abode, the home of the Father? The indwelling of
the Three-One God is the heritage of them that obey. Obedience and faith
are but two aspects of one act,--surrender to God and His will. As faith
strengthens for obedience, it is in turn strengthened by it: faith is made
perfect by works. It is to be feared that often our efforts to believe
have been unavailing because we have not taken up the only position in which a
large faith is legitimate or possible,--that of entire surrender to the honour
and the will of God. It is the man who is entirely consecrated to God and
His will who will find the power come to claim everything that His God has
promised to be for him.
The application of this in the school of
prayer is very simple, but very solemn. `I chose you,' the Master says,
`and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit,' much fruit (verses 5, 8),
`and that your fruit should abide,' that your life might be one of abiding fruit
and abiding fruitfulness, `that' thus, as fruitful branches abiding in
me, `whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.'
O how often we have sought to be able to pray the effectual prayer for
much grace to bear fruit, and have wondered that the answer came not. It
was because we were reversing the Master's order. We wanted to have the
comfort and the joy and the strength first, that we might do the work easily and
without any feeling of difficulty or self-sacrifice. And He wanted us in
faith, without asking whether we felt weak or strong, whether the work was hard
or easy, in the obedience of faith to do what He said: the path of
fruit-bearing would have led us to the place and the power of prevailing prayer.
Obedience is the only path that leads to the glory of God. Not
obedience instead of faith, nor obedience to supply the shortcomings of faith;
no, but faith's obedience gives access to all the blessings our God has for us.
The baptism of the Spirit (xiv. 16), the manifestation of the Son (xiv.
21), the indwelling of the Father (xiv. 23), the abiding in Christ's love (xv.
10), the privilege of His holy friendship (xv. 14), and the power of
all-prevailing prayer (xv. 16),--all wait for the obedient.
take home the lessons. Now we know the great reason why we have not had
power in faith to pray prevailingly. Our life was not as it should have
been: simple downright obedience, abiding fruitfulness, was not its chief
mark. And with our whole heart we approve of the Divine appointment:
men to whom God is to give such influence in the rule of the world, as at
their request to do what otherwise would not have taken place, men whose will is
to guide the path in which God's will is to work, must be men who have
themselves learned obedience, whose loyalty and submission to authority must be
above all suspicion. Our whole soul approves the law: obedience and
fruit-bearing, the path to prevailing prayer. And with shame we
acknowledge how little our lives have yet borne this stamp.
yield ourselves to take up the appointment the Saviour gives us. Let us
study His relation to us as Master. Let us seek no more with each new day
to think in the first place of comfort, or joy, or blessing. Let the first
thought be: I belong to the Master. Every moment and every movement
I must act as His property, as a part of Himself, as one who only seeks to know
and do His will. A servant, a slave of Jesus Christ,--let this be
the spirit that animates me. If He says, `No longer do I call you
servants, but I have called you friends,' let us accept the place of friends:
`Ye are my friends if ye do the things which I command
The one thing He commands us as His branches is to bear
fruit. Let us live to bless others, to testify of the life and the
love there is in Jesus. Let us in faith and obedience give our whole life
to that which Jesus chose us for and appointed us to-fruit-bearing. As we
think of His electing us to this, and take up our appointment as coming from Him
who always gives all He demands, we shall grow strong in the confidence that a
life of fruit-bearing, abounding and abiding, is within our reach. And we
shall understand why this fruit-bearing alone can be the path to the place of
all prevailing prayer. It is the man who, in obedience to the Christ of
God, is proving that he is doing what his Lord wills, for whom the Father will
do whatsoever he will: `Whatsoever we ask we receive, because we keep His
commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in His
`LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.'
Blessed Master! teach me to
apprehend fully what I only partly realize, that it is only through the will of
God, accepted and acted out in obedience to His commands, that we obtain the
power to grasp His will in His promises and fully to appropriate them in our
prayers. And teach me that it is in the path of fruit-bearing that the
deeper growth of the branch into the Vine can be perfected, and we attain to the
perfect oneness with Thyself in which we ask whatsoever we will.
Reveal to us, we pray Thee, how with all the hosts of heaven, and
with Thyself the Son on earth, and with all the men of faith who have glorified
Thee on earth, obedience to God is our highest privilege, because it gives
access to oneness with Himself in that which is His highest glory-His all
perfect will. And reveal to us, we pray Thee, how in keeping Thy
commandments and bearing fruit according to Thy will, our spiritual nature will
grow up to the full stature of the perfect man, with power to ask and to receive
whatsoever we will.
O Lord Jesus! Reveal Thyself to us,
and the reality of Thy purpose and Thy power to make these Thy wonderful
promises the daily experience of all who utterly yield themselves to Thee and
Thy words. Amen.
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