The Life That Can Pray
Our power in prayer depends upon our life. Where our life is right we shall know how to pray so as to please God, and prayer will secure the answer. Hear the Lord Jesus in the parable of the vine: "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). And again at the close of the parable: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you 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" (v. 16).
It is the branch life that gives power for prayer. We are branches of Christ, the Living Vine. We must simply live like branches, and abide in Christ. Then we shall ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us. The branch is simply a growth of the vine, produced by it and appointed to bear fruit. It has only one reason of existence; it is there at the bidding of the vine, that through it the vine may bear and ripen its precious fruit. Just as the vine lives to produce the sap that makes the grape, so the branch has no other aim but to receive that sap and bear the grape. Its work is to serve the vine, that through it the vine may do its work.
The believer, the branch of Christ, the Heavenly Vine, is as exclusively to live only that Christ may bear fruit through him. A true Christian as a branch is to be as absorbed in and devoted to the work of bearing fruit to the glory of God as Christ the Vine was on earth and is now in heaven. It is to such that the unlimited prayer promises of the parable are given. With our life abiding in Him, and His Words abiding, kept and obeyed in our heart and life, there will be the grace to pray aright and the faith to receive the whatsoever we will.
God’s covenant is ever: Give all and take all. If one is willing to be wholly branch, and nothing but branch, is ready to place himself absolutely at the disposal of Jesus the Vine of God, to bear His fruit through him, and to live every moment only for Him – he will receive a divine liberty to claim Christ’s "whatsoever" in all its fullness. And he will have divine wisdom and humility to use it aright. He will live and pray and claim the Father’s promises even as Christ did, only for God’s glory in the salvation of men. He will use his boldness in prayer only with a view to power in intercession and getting men blessed.
The Divine Husbandman
Jesus said, "I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman" (John 15:1). We have not only the glorified Son of God in His divine fullness, out of whose fullness of life and grace we can draw – this is very wonderful – but there is something more blessed still. We have the Father, as the Husbandman, watching over our abiding in the Vine, over our growth and fruitbearing. It is not left to our faith or our faithfulness to maintain our union with Christ. The God who is the Father of Christ, and who united us with Him – will see to it that the branch is what it should be. He will enable us to bring forth the fruit we were appointed to bear. Hear what Christ said of this: "…every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (v. 2). More fruit is what the Father seeks; more fruit is what the Father will Himself provide. It is for this that He, as the Vinedresser, cleanses the branches.
The one great work that a vinedresser has to do for the branch every year is to prune it. To abide in Christ and to bring forth much fruit and to be able to ask whatsoever it will, the one thing the branch must do, is to trust in and yield itself to this divine cleansing. What is it that the vinedresser cuts away with his pruning knife? Nothing but the wood that the branch has produced – true wood with the true vine nature in it. This must be cut away because it draws away the strength and life of the vine, and hinders the flow of the sap to the grapes. The wood of the branch must decrease, that the fruit for the vine may increase. Death is the way to life; gain comes through sacrifice. The rich growth of wood must be cut off and cast away that the life more abundant may be seen in the cluster.
Child of God, there is in you that which appears perfectly innocent and legitimate, and which yet so draws out your interest and strength that it must be pruned and cleansed away. It is only as our own will and strength and effort and pleasures, even where these appear perfectly natural and sinless, are cut down so that the whole energies of our being are free and open to receive the sap of the Heavenly Vine, the Holy Spirit, that we shall bear much fruit. It is in the full and willing submission to God’s holy pruning knife that we shall come to what Christ chose and appointed us for – to bear fruit, that whatsoever we ask the Father in Christ’s name, He may give to us.
Christ tells us what the pruning knife is: "Ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you" (v. 3). What heart-searching words Christ had spoken to His disciples on love and humility, on being the least, and, like Himself, the servant of all, on denying self, and taking the cross, and losing the life. Through His Word the Father had cleansed them, cut away all confidence in themselves or the world, and prepared them for the inflowing and filling of the Spirit of the Heavenly Vine. It is not we who can cleanse ourselves; God is the Vinedresser. We may confidently entrust ourselves to His care.
Arranged from The Ministry of Intercession by Andrew Murray.