Last week I began a series on prayer and purpose. I want to continue this for a few more weeks, so before I depart Guyana, here is another Memo for you to think about. And please, just because I am heading home does not mean that I don’t need your financial help – I do now more than ever. I am coming home from Guyana with more purpose – there is much to do here to help my pastor friend start a library and a computer center – but I cannot help him if you don’t help me. He and his church have been generous with me, but I need your help after I spent nine days here, speaking 10 times on purpose. You can give toward my support through my website or by sending a gift to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. And now, let’s continue our series on prayer.
WHAT DID JESUS REALLY SAY?
If Jesus said that apart from Him you can do nothing, isn't it true that in Him you can do anything? Alright, maybe not everything, but something? Let's look at the entire passage and you'll see what I mean:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:1-8).
Jesus said if you don't abide in Him you can't do anything; if you do, however, you will bear much fruit. If you don't, you are a useless branch and will be pruned and burned. Of course, if you are fruitful, you will also be pruned and burned, but that is so you will bear more fruit. That is another message for another time. Did you also notice that if you abide in Jesus, you can ask for whatever you wish and it will be given to you? While the warning of what you can't do without Jesus is real, what you can do is much more prevalent in this passage.
I have heard and read many comments on the verse above when Jesus said, “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.” Most dodge the promise made in this verse, explaining it away and limiting its power. Others do the opposite and claim it is a promise that covers everything, and if the answer doesn’t come, there is something wrong with the asker’s faith. I choose to interpret what Jesus said a bit differently.
The promise that Jesus made was in the context of bearing fruit. Since God wants you to bear fruit, there is no place better to bear than when you are in your purpose. When you are flowing in purpose, God will give you what you need to help you fulfill it. After all, I have reminded people many times that God wants you to fulfill your purpose more than you do. That’s why you are here. God isn’t trying to withhold from you; He is waiting for you to see where your productivity lies and then He will help you bear fruit. God doesn’t want you just to be a nice person; He wants you to be a nice, fruitful person, and purpose is the place you bear fruit.
I want you this week to wrestle with what Jesus said in John 15 about fruit and prayer. Then I want you to be honest. Are you getting any answers to your prayers? If your honest answer is “no,” it’s not that God is angry with you. It’s that you are probably praying outside your purpose and accompanying fruit. If you will start to focus on what you need to be fruitful, I promise that you will get answers to prayer.
Getting answers to your prayers is one of the most exhilarating experiences as a believer. Yet it’s not just praying any old prayer and expecting God to respond like some heavenly butler. It is praying purpose prayers and seeing God act not only on your behalf, but on behalf of those people who will benefit from your purpose. Enjoy working through John 15 this week and I will be back next week (on time) to give you the next installment in our prayer series.