I’m enjoying Spurgeon’s The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. I like his “no-nonsense” approach.
One concept that he focuses on has been very helpful to me. It concerns John 15:7- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
Hmmm, okay, we all know that verse, but how do we know what to ask for? I like how Spurgeon explains that our desires are shaped by God’s word abiding in us:
“You who have Christ’s words abiding in you are equipped with those things that the Lord regards with attention. If the Word of God abides in you, you can pray because you meet the great God with His own words and thus overcome omnipotence with omnipotence. You put your finger down upon the very lines and say, ‘Do as You have said.’ This is the best praying in all the world.”
And he continues: “You still may say you do not quite see why a man who abides in Christ should be allowed to ask whatever he wills and it shall be done unto him.”
Actually, that’s not exactly my question, but almost. My question is, how do I have the authority to ask for something if I’m not sure if that particular promise applies to me?
“I answer again: it is so, because in such a man as that [who abides in Christ] there is a predominance of grace that causes him to have a renewed will, which is according to the will of God. Suppose a man of God is in prayer and thinks that something is desirable, yet he remembers that he is nothing but a babe in the presence of his all-wise Father. And so he bows his will and asks as a favor to be taught what to will. Though God bids him ask to what he wills, he shrinks and cries, 'My Lord, here is a request that I am not quite clear about. As far as I can judge, it is a desirable thing. But Lord, I am not fit to judge for myself, and therefore I ask You to not give as I will, but as You will.' Do you not see that when we are in such a condition as this, our real will is God’s will. Deep down in our hearts, we will only what the Lord himself wills, and what is this but to ask what we will and it is done to us?”
I felt as though a burden was lifted after reading this. Sometimes we feel that we are always struggling between My will and His. “No, not my will, but Yours!” Of course we will have to give up some desires and make sacrifices, but the point is that when we abide in Him there will no longer be two different wills! Our will gets transformed into His will. As we become more like Him, our desires become His desires. If I don’t know how to pray about a certain situation, I ask Him to mold my immature desires to His perfect will. And then when I pray I will be asking for that thing which He will be pleased to give me. It's not that my desire is right or wrong, it's that I won't even feel led to ask for something that isn't in His will.