Summary: A message on prayer.
THE CONDITIONS OF PRAYER
INTRO: A close study of the N.T. will reveal that Jesus did not promise answers to any prayer but only to certain kinds of prayers. What kind of prayers does God answer? What conditions must be fulfilled before answers will come? No passage in the N.T. so clearly answers these questions as does this text in John’s Gospel. The Master Himself mentions four conditions of prayer.
I. ON THE BASIS OF FAITH.
Jesus said that answered prayers are those uttered on the basis of faith. Faith, which is the key ingredient in the Christian life, is also the key ingredient in prayer (Mark 11:24). The reception of prayer depends on the perception of faith.
What is faith? The N.T. is filled with both demonstrations and discussions of faith. In only one place is a definition given (Heb. 11:6). Most of us go to God with our prayers like the little girl who comes up to us wanting to sell girl scout cookies. “I don’t suppose you want to buy any cookies, do you?”
God does not answer such prayers. Prayers which God answers are prayers spoken in the atmosphere of expectancy by a Christian who believes that God is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
II. FOR THE PURPOSE OF WORKS.
A second condition is noticed when we look at the con-text in which Jesus puts the promise of answered prayer (v. 12) Six times in this last discourse of Jesus before His death, the Master repeated the unlimited promise of answered prayer (14:13; 14; 15:7; 16; 16:23; 24). But notice that the promise of the free use of Jesus’ name and the unlimited potential of answered prayer is connected to the doing of His works.
When you bow before the Father and lift your requests to Him, for what purpose do you make these requests? Do you make your requests in order to fulfill your wishes, or to fortify yourself to do God’s work? To be satisfied within yourself, or to be strengthened for service?
For the Christian who prays for power and perception because he needs these things for the work of the Master, answered prayers will be a reality.
III. IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
Jesus said in our text (v. 13). What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
Simply adding the phrase in Jesus’ name to the end of the prayer will not satisfy the meaning of Jesus’ statement. Actually, this condition has more to do with the way we live than with the way we pray. To pray in Jesus name implies union with Jesus. Several analogies form common life will clarify this meaning.
In human relationships, a legal union occurs between an employee and employer. If the employee goes to another country to do business for his employer, he has an account that he can draw on in his employer’s name to carry out the business of his employer.
In human relationships, a life union occurs between a father and son. The child has the father’s name because he has his life. Many times the son is honored or helped simply because he carries his father’s name.
In human relationships, a love union occurs between a husband and wife. The woman usually takes her husband’s name, and then has full use of it. She can write checks on that name and make purchases in that name.
Each of these three human unions is illustrative of the spiritual union that we have with Christ. To pray in Jesus’ name means to have a union of interest, life, or love with Him. This privilege is ours only if we abide in Christ and allow Him to abide in us.
IV. TO THE GLORY OF GOD.
In verse 13, Jesus gives yet another condition of answered prayer. Our prayer will be answered if the ultimate aim of our prayer is to glorify the Father. If there is no prospect of God’s glory being obtained through our prayer, that prayer will not be answered.
When the whole life in all its parts is given up to the glory of God, then we can really pray to His glory too. And only then will God answer our prayers.
CONC: Are you meeting the conditions of prayer as established by Jesus. If so, then your prayer life is effective. If not, when you make the necessary changes to conform with these standards, you too, will have an effective prayer life.