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CHAPTER 4
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD 
THROUGH PRAYER
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4.11  Conditions for Effective Prayer

You are reading in subchapter 4.11 of chapter 4 in the free, global online book, Fellowship With God in the Sixth Path. Navigation at the top and bottom of each page, allows you to open the table of contents, visit the home page, ask questions or share your story.  The arrow at the top right takes you to the next chapter.  


How do we pray so that God will answer our prayers? 


Scripture has a lot to say on this subject.


We are to ask with faith, without doubt, with proper motives, doing God's business, according to His will, while in fellowship with Him.


This subchapter reveals which prayers God will answer. We will also see which prayers He will not answer. Here is what scripture says:



Conditions for Effective Prayer:

1) Faith:

  •  "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matthew 21:22).


2) Faith with No Doubting: 

  • "But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For that man shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:6-7).


3) Motive:

  •  "You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).


4) Jesus' name: 

  • "If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14).


5) God's Will: 

  • "... if we ask anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him" (1 John 5:14,15).


6) Remain: 

  • "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).


According to the first two passages, prayer should be offered by faith and without doubt. Motive is addressed in the third passage. Prayer is not a means of fulfilling pleasure. 


Regarding the fourth passage, a prayer offered in Jesus' name is a prayer offered as His servant, doing His work. This is what it meant in Jesus's day when someone said "In the name of the king, we do this or that." One committing an act in the name of the king was doing the king's business. Jesus is "king of kings" (Revelation 19:16). So, we need to know what Jesus's work is before we can pray in His name. 


The fifth passage says that we must pray according to God's will. So we need to know God's will before we can offer prayers that satisfy that condition. If we don't know God's will, we can't ask Him to do anything with faith and no doubt. So, absent knowledge of God's will, we can't satisfy the first two conditions (asking with faith and no doubt). But if we know God's will, we can ask with faith. 


The fourth and fifth conditions are very similar. Jesus' work is God's will . So, if we know God's will, we should be able to ask Him to do His will, in Jesus' name, by faith and without any doubt.



But how do we know God's will?

The Endorsed Prayers of the apostles, prophets and Christ in previous subchapters are all prayers that are according to God's will. This includes prayers regarding knowledge of God's will, enlightened eyesight, revelation, power, strength, wisdom, love, unity, obedience, faith, forgiveness, words for witnessing, tranquility, intimacy with God, escape from temptation, forgiveness, praise, thanksgiving, salvation, opening doors for the Gospel, spreading God's word, enemies, rebuke, and mercy, etc.


One thing is very interesting about the Endorsed Prayers. As you pray them and God answers them, your life will become progressively more abundant even though many of your circumstances may not improve. In John 10:10 Jesus said, "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."


Every Endorsed Prayer of scripture is not presented in this book. But thirty-two are included. There may be more. Since the Endorsed Prayers cover prayer topics that the apostles, prophets or Christ prayed or instructed the saints to pray, they were consistent with God's will when they were prayed. As long as scripture doesn't indicate that the prayer is not applicable to us, then it is appropriate for us to pray that prayer. For example, a prayer asking God to send the Messiah would not be appropriate since the Messiah has already come.


God will reveal His will to us if we ask. According to Colossians 1:9-12, God will reveal His will in sufficient detail so that we can "walk worthy of the Lord" and "please him in all respects".

  • "we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects" (Colossians 1:9-12).


If you would like to see an in depth study of the above prayer for knowledge of God's will see micro-subchapter 4.2c.



The Sixth Condition: The Great Divide!

The sixth condition for effective prayer is "remain" from John 15:7.

  • "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).


This condition for prayer contains the amazing promise: "ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you". This passage requires a more detailed explanation than the others. But it is a critical passage for the subject of this book. If you are not familiar with John 15:1-7, it will take some time and prayer to grasp all of the concepts. But they are very important for you and every other Christian.  I have prayed that you will PRAY through John 15:1-7 and this section.


The key word is "remain". I will provide the larger passage to supply the context for this critical condition for answered prayer. 

  • "1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn't bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can't bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn't remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you" John 15:1-7


The Key Word is Remain: 

Every desire will be granted for those who meet the criteria. The criteria is "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you". Jesus used these words in a way that communicates intimacy and unity. To remain in Jerusalem would infer familiarity and association, but not necessarily intimacy or unity. But to remain in another person infers intimacy and unity.


We may see this more clearly if we use a human example. Consider the meaning of the following sentence: "Sophia remains in Asher and Asher's words remain in Sophia". As Asher's words remain in Sophia, she clings to his words, repeats them, dwells on them, and feeds on them. As Sophia remains in Asher, her whole being is absorbed into him. 


Sophia's relationship to Asher is revealed by her response to his words. Our relationship to Christ is revealed by our response to Christ's words. Note the condition for having all our desires granted: "if you remain in me, and my words remain in you".


To enter into this fellowship, the heart must touch what the eye cannot see. It all depends on what happens in one particular moment... in that very second when we come into contact with the word of God. 


That moment is the foundation of this book. It is from that moment, that this fellowship with God unfolds. In subchapter 1.1 we entered into that moment. In subchapter 1.1 we yielded to God's Spirit as He spoke to us through His word. We enjoyed deep inner fellowship with Him as we experienced intimate methods for reading scripture. If you have not read subchapter 1.1, I prayerfully implore you to read it. It is titled "Learning to Read: Five Paths". I am 99.99% confidant that you will read many things there that you have never read before.


My description of the relationship between Sophia and Asher contained a lot of intimacy. This degree of intimacy between Christ and the church is well established in scripture. See below.


The church is the bride of Christ:

  • "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ."(2 Corinthians 11:2).


This is the apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth. An intimacy like that which exists between a bride and groom is what God intends for Christ and the Church. And we are the church. The criteria "remain" indicates a living, active, intimate fellowship. This fellowship is so intimate that every desire is granted. While in this fellowship with God, one knows what God desires, desires only what God desires and is granted every desire. There must be a union of wills. A single will. This degree of intimacy is available to us in this age, before the eternal state.


Within the context of John 15:1-7, one who "remains" does not escape suffering but is pruned (V 2). One who does not "remain" is on a path into severe discipline. One who does not "remain" bears no fruit (V 4), can do nothing (V 5), is thrown out as a branch, withers, is gathered, thrown into the fire and burned (V 6). The stages of this discipline progress from impotence to burning.


Some believe that "thrown into the fire and burned" represents damnation rather than discipline. Fire certainly does sound scary. But that understanding isn't consistent with rest of the passage. If "not remain" represents damnation and "remain" represents life eternal, then everyone who has eternal life would be getting everything they want all the time. Here is the passage.

  • "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).


To prove this point, I will repeat the passage but substitute "eternal life" for the word "remain".


If you have ETERNAL LIFE in me, and my words have ETERNAL LIFE in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.


So, if "not remain" represents damnation and "remain" represents life eternal, then everyone who has eternal life would be getting everything they want all the time.


That saints do not get everything they want is proved in the book of James. James 4:3 states "You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives". James didn't say that they didn't receive because they were damned. They didn't receive because of poor motives. They were not in fellowship with God.

But, if we understand "remain" to be a state of fellowship, this issue is resolved. Those in fellowship get everything they want. Those who are out of fellowship are disciplined.


Can God's discipline be described as "fire" and "burned"? Yes it can. Please observe:

  • "For you, God, have tested us. You have refined us, as silver is refined. You brought us into prison. You laid a burden on our backs. You allowed men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us to the place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10-12).
  • "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver. I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10).


Can God's discipline be severe? Yes it can. Please observe:

  • "You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. 5 You have forgotten the exhortation which reasons with you as with children, "My son, don't take lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him; 6 for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines, and chastises every son whom he receives" (Hebrews 12:4-6).


 If you will look up the word "chastise" in a dictionary, you will see that it indicates a severe discipline. The Greek word translated as "chastises" in this passage is translated as "flogged" in John 19:1. In fact, the NASB, KJV and ASV use the word "scourge" instead of "chastise". Notice that the passage states that "every son" receives severe discipline. The rewards of fellowship with God are so incredibly great, that God would be unloving if He didn't use discipline great enough to get our attention. So, no matter how great your discipline is, the rewards of discipline are greater.


No Neutral Ground:

We are either remaining or we aren't. We are either in fellowship with God or we aren't. We are either getting everything we want or being disciplined. There is no neutral ground. In our intimacy with God, only zeal is acceptable. Moderation in our devotion to God does not result in fellowship. 


  • Jesus said, "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16). 


The subject of Revelation 3:16 is fellowship. This is thoroughly explained in subchapter 2.7. 


The Endorsed Prayers

The Endorsed Prayers are prayers that Christ, the apostles or prophets prayed or instructed the saints to pray. They are presented in subchapters 4.2 through 4.6. The Endorsed Prayers are prayers regarding knowledge of God's will, enlightened eyesight, revelation, power, strength, wisdom, love, unity, obedience, faith, forgiveness, words for witnessing, tranquility, intimacy with God, escape from temptation, forgiveness, praise, thanksgiving, salvation, opening doors for the Gospel, spreading God's word, enemies, rebuke, and mercy. 


As we pray the Endorsed Prayers, God's agenda will be our agenda. We have fellowship with God as we participate with Him in what He is doing. We will be praying in God's will. We will be receiving everything we ask for.  We will draw nearer to Christ as Christ is formed in us. 


Getting Everything we Ask for:

Some prayers are answered progressively, over time. One may ask God to multiply faith or increase love or obedience. Even though we may make these requests by faith, without doubt and in fellowship with God... we may not see an immediate granting of the request.


Our requests must be according to God's will. And God has willed that we are refined through suffering over time. The subchapters on suffering in chapter 5 will make this clear from the scriptures.


Progressive Answers to Prayer:

Prayer is not a spell that is cast in one singular action with assurance of an immediate result. This is established by the following passages. These passages show that we are to be devoted to persistent prayer at all times... watching in prayer for opportunities for prayer... watching in prayer for answers to prayer.


Devoted to Prayer:

  • "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer" (Acts 2:42).


Persistent in Prayer:

  • "He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up" (Luke 18:1).


Pray at All Times:

  • "with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).


Watch in Prayer:

  • "Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2).


Final and Complete Answers to Prayer:

The complete answer to some prayers will come in death. Love and understanding are good examples. As we ask God to increase our love and understanding, God will grant increased love and understanding. But perfect love and understanding will not come to us until we stand face to face with God.

  • "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • "Beloved, now we are children of God. It is not yet revealed what we will be; but we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).


There will be no sin in the paradise of the New Jerusalem:
  • "There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21;27).


We will enter into the New Jerusalem, either by death or by the second coming of Jesus Christ. After the child of God dies, he will no longer commit sin. Zero sin.



Summary:

To be granted all of our desires in prayer, we are to ask with faith, without doubt, with proper motives, doing God's business, according to His will, while in fellowship with him. During those times when we do not meet this criteria, we will not lose eternal salvation but will be in a state of broken fellowship and receive loving discipline from the Father to bring us into intimate fellowship. 


As we are in fellowship, we still suffer through pruning, while the one who is out of fellowship suffers through "burning". When in fellowship we have the very powerful advantage of intimate fellowship with God... That is its own reward!




Group Discussion Questions

Please prayerfully answer the following questions:

1) What are the six conditions for effective prayer?

2) How can a Christian receive everything he or she asks for?

3) To "remain" in Christ is the same thing as to "abide" in Christ. What does it mean to "remain" in Christ?

4) Why should we pray the Endorsed Prayers?

5) Can we have fellowship with God in moderation? See the paragraph above titled "No Neutral Ground."





"If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you"
 John 15:7

Have a question or want to share how this book has impacted your life?