How to Pray, By R.A. Torrey
Chapter 7: Abiding in Christ
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7). The whole secret of prayer is found in these words of our Lord. Here is prayer that has unbounded power: “Ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.:
There is a way then of asking and receiving precisely what we ask. Christ gives two conditions of the all-prevailing prayer:
The first condition is “If ye abide in Me.”
What is it to abide in Christ?
Some explanations are so mystical or so profound that many children of God think they mean practically nothing at all. But, what Jesus meant was really very simple.
He had been comparing Himself to a vine, His disciples to the branches in the vine. Some branches continued in the vine - in living union - so that the sap or life of the vine constantly flowed into the branches. They had no independent life of their own. Everything in them was simply the outcome of the life of the vine, flowing into them. Their buds, leaves, blossoms, and fruit were not really theirs, but the buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the vine. Other branches were completely severed from the vine, or the flow of the sap or life of the vine was in some way hindered. For us to abide in Christ is to bear the same relationship to Him that the first sort of branches bear to the vine. That is to say, to abide in Christ, is to renounce any independent life of our own. We must give up trying to think our thoughts, form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings. We must simply and constantly look to Christ to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us. It is to renounce all life independent of Christ and constantly look to Him for the inflow of His life into us and the outworking of His life through us. When we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God.
This must necessarily be so, for our desires will not be our own desires but Christ;s. And our prayers will not in reality be our own prayers, but Christ praying in us. Such prayers will always be in harmony with God’s will, and the Father always hears Him. When our prayers fail, it is because they are indeed our prayers. We have conceived the desire and offered our own petitions, instead of looking to Christ to pray through us.
To abide in Christ, one must already be in Christ through the acceptance of Christ as an atoning Savior from the guilt of sin. He must be acknowledged as a risen Savior from the power of sin and a Lord and Master over all the believer’s life. Being in Christ, all that we have to do to abide (or continue) in Christ, is simply to renounce our self-life. We must utterly renounce every thought, purpose, desire, and affection of our own and continually look for Jesus Christ to form His thoughts, purposes, affections, and desires in us. Abiding in Christ is really a very simple matter, though it is a wonderful life of privilege and of power.
Christ’s Words in Us
There is another condition stated in this verse, though it is really involved in the first: “And My words abide in you.”
If we are to receive from God all we ask from Him, Christ’s words must abide in us. We must study His words and let them sink into our thoughts and heart. We must keep them in our memory, obey them constantly in our life, and let them shape and mold our daily life and our every act.
This is really the method of abiding in Christ. It is through His words that Jesus imparts Himself to us. The words He speaks unto us, they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63) It is vain to expect power in prayer unless we meditate upon the words of Christ and let them sink deep and find a permanent abode in our hearts. There are many who wonder why they are so powerless in prayer. The very simple explanation of it all is found in their neglect of the words of Christ. They have not hidden His words in their hearts; His words do not abide in them. It is not by moments of mystical mediation and rapturous experiences that we learn to abide in Christ. It is by feeding upon His Word, His written word in the Bible, and looking to the Spirit to implant these words in our heart - to make them a living thing in our heart. If we thus let the words of Christ abide in us, they will stir us up to prayer. They will be the mold in which our prayers are shaped. And, our prayers will necessarily be along the line of God’s will and will prevail with Him. Prevailing prayer is almost an impossibility where there is neglect of the study of God’s word.
Mere intellectual study of the Word of God is not enough; there must be meditation upon it. The Word of God must be revolved over and over in the mind with a constant looking to God and His Spirit to make that Word a living thing in the heart. The prayer that is born of meditation upon the Word of God is the prayer which soars upward to God’s listening ear.
George Mueller, one of the mightiest men of prayer, would begin praying by reading and meditating upon God’s Word until a prayer began to form itself in his heart. Thus, God Himself was the real author of prayer, and God answered the prayer which He Himself had inspired.
The Word of God is the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works. It is the sword of the Spirit in more senses than one. The person who wants to know the work of the Holy Spirit in any direction must feed upon the Word. The person who desires to pray in the spirit must meditate on the Word, so that the Holy Spirit may have something through which He can work. The Holy Sprit works His prayers in us through the Word. Neglect of the Word makes praying in the Holy Spirit an impossibility. If we seek to feed the fire of our prayers with the fuel of God’s Word, all our difficulties in prayer will disappear.