“Abide” isn’t a word I use very often. Or ever. Not only do I not use the word ‘abide’, I don’t hear anyone else use it either. So why did Jesus use this word nearly a dozen times in sixteen verses while giving His disciples a most important lesson and preparing them for His death? In John 14-16 Jesus shared an impassioned, intense message for His followers about the relationship they are to have with the Father and the Holy Spirit because of their relationship with Him. This relationship offers the believer unlimited access to the Father, the truth, power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and answered prayer—one-hundred-percent-anything-you-ask-answered-prayer!  It is incredible!

Does this get your attention like it got mine? Who doesn’t want unlimited access to the Father, the spiritual insight and power of the Holy Spirit and the blank check of “I will do whatever you ask in my name . . . . ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”?1 This has to be too good to be true. Unlimited access to an all-powerful Father who loves more than we can imagine; a Spirit that spawned the universe and raised Christ from death with a power that cannot be overcome becoming an integral part of us; and a Savior-friend-brother who will do anything we ask.  This is the winning trifecta of trifectas for the believer. It cannot possibly get any better than this. So why don’t we witness this with every prayer of every Christian?

We readily accept and use Jesus’ name in our prayers as if that was the only requirement. How many times have we prayed for something, tagged on the “in Jesus’ name ending” and not received it because “sometimes God says no” or some other reason? We learn quickly to blame God’s 'will', the ‘mysterious ways of God’, our sin-filled world or some other direct or indirect reason God is at fault. I assure you, God is not the weak link. In the above passage, Jesus totally debunks the idea of unanswered prayer or negatively answered prayer. Maybe we didn’t see that prayer answered for other reasons.

This passage repeatedly mentions three things in a somewhat circular statement: commands (obedience), abide and Holy Spirit. These three components are intricately connected. If we obey Jesus’ words and commands—love God , each other, abide, believe Jesus is One with God—we can ask for and receive the Divine Helper, who makes it easier to obey and abide. Jesus used the word Parakletos in the Greek (which means Advocate, Intercessor, Consoler, Comforter, Helper) and Spirit of Truth.2 These two descriptive titles combined are quite comprehensive even before considering the ‘clothed with power’ aspect of the Holy Spirit.3 Jesus goes on to explain what exactly the Spirit of Truth will do in the believer: He will guide the believer into all truth; reveal future events to the believer; glorify God by giving Jesus’ God-given insightful truths to believers; He will cause the believer to testify about Jesus; He will teach the believer everything and remind the believer of Jesus’ words.4  This is powerful intel for the believer! This inside information and guidance is vital for success in prayer, ministry and life.

Along with obeying Jesus’ commands and receiving the Advocate/Helper, Spirit of Truth, we must ‘abide’. This word is often translated as remain or stay, and occasionally translated as dwell, continue or endure. The idea is to ‘live, stay, continue or exist in a given condition or state’.5  Jesus says “abide in Me” five times in just three verses--He is definitely trying to drill this in. Next He promises to answer every prayer affirmatively if we abide in Him and allow His words to abide in us. These answered prayers glorify God and are evidence of discipleship.  Jesus then describes His relationship with the Father as one where He abides in the Father’s love by obeying the Father’s commands and tells His followers to do the same: abide in Jesus’ love by obeying Jesus’ commands.6 Abide and obey, receive, obey and abide. 

This may be starting to sound a bit impossible or at least challenging. But it really isn’t. Remember how the Spirit of Truth gives guidance, teaches and reminds the believer of Jesus’ words? We don’t have to do the heavy lifting here. Yes, we do need to read, study and meditate on Jesus’ words and scripture, 'abide' in the words of life. Let Jesus' truth permeate every part of our life and thought. We have to allow the Spirit to guide, teach, remind, which means we have to yield our time to Him. Yes, we have to exercise love for God and man, but that is also one of the benefits the Holy Spirit provides to us.7 It is all ours if we simply abide. Now that’s not too hard.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you....You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

• • • John 15:7, 16• • •

1. John 14:13-14; John 16:23, 24
2. John 15:26
3. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8
4. John 16:13-15; John 15:26; 14:26
6. John 15:4-10
7. Romans 5:5

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