God gives an incredible promise to those who abide: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7).
Notice that there are two conditions to that promise. First, we must abide. The Greek word for "abide" is in the aorist tense; it indicates something that happened at one point in time and has permanent results. Again, it refers to salvation and indicates that the promise is only for real believers.
Of course, in His sovereign wisdom, God sometimes answers the prayers of a non-Christian; but He does not obligate Himself to do so. If He does, it is His sovereign choice and for His purpose; but He does not have to. The promise of answered prayer is reserved only for those who abide in the true Vine.
Still, many who are true branches do not always get answers to their prayers. It may be because they are not meeting Jesus' second condition, which is, "If my words abide in you."
"My words" doesn't mean only the individual words of Christ. Some people misuse red-letter Bibles because they regard the words of Jesus as more inspired or more important than the words of other writers of Scripture. But the words of Paul, Peter, John and Jude are just as important. The Lord Jesus Christ has spoken through all of Scripture; it is all his message to us. Therefore, when He says, "If My words abide in you," He means we must have such high regard for all of Scripture that we let it abide in us, that we hide it in our hearts, and that we commit ourselves to knowing and obeying it.
To meet the first condition, a person must be a Christian. To meet the second condition, he must study all of Scripture in order to govern his life by what Christ has revealed.
The same principle is found in John 14:14, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." Praying in His name is not merely adding "in Jesus' name" to the end of a prayer. It means praying for that which is consistent with the words and will of Christ.
The Christian who is abiding in Christ and controlled by his word is not going to ask anything against God's will. Because he wants what God wants, he is guaranteed an answer to his prayer.
Our prayers often go unanswered because we pray selfishly. James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures."
Our prayers will be answered if we follow Paul's example in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." We must rid our minds of everything that violates God's truth and will. When we think according to the will of God, we will pray according to the will of God and our prayers will be answered.
There is so little power in the prayers of the church today because we are not fully abiding and seeking His mind. Instead of bringing our minds into obedience to Christ and asking according to His will, we ask selfishly, so our prayers go unanswered. If we cultivated an intimate love relationship with Christ, we would desire what he desires; and we would ask and receive.
The psalmist said, "Delight yourself in the Elohim; and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). That means that when you delight completely in the Most High God, He implants the right desires in your heart. His desires become yours. What a blessing it is to know that God will answer every prayer we bring to Him!
We may count on it that we have the best solicitor for us by God as our mediator between Him and man.