The promise that “If ye abide in me, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you” is the highest promise that is associated with the command “Abide in me,” and it is also the promise that brings the confession “Not that I have already attained, or am already made perfect,” faster than any other promise associated with the “Abide in me” command. The greatest success in pursuing a life of full abiding is to obtain power with God.
And of all the characteristics of a life like Christ’s, there is none more glorious than conformity to Him in the work that engages Him without ceasing in the presence of the Father — his all-prevailing intercession. The more we continue to dwell in Him and mature into His likeness, the more His priestly life will work mightily in us, and our life will become what He is: a life that continually pleads and prevails on behalf of men.
“Thou hast made us kings and priests to God,” the scripture reads. Power, influence, and blessing are the most important aspects of both the king and the priest. In the case of the king, power flows downward, while in the case of the priest, power ascends and prevails with God. The kingly power is based on the priestly power in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is both a priest and a king. Because He continues to live among us and makes intercession on our behalf, He possesses the power to save us to the very end. There is no other explanation for his priests and kings. In the process of intercession, the Church is to discover and make use of the greatest power it possesses, and each individual member of the Church is to provide evidence of his lineal descent from Israel, who served as a prince and wielded power both with God and with men, ultimately achieving victory in both arenas.
This book was written as a result of the author’s strong conviction that the role and significance of prayer in the life of a Christian is misunderstood to an unacceptable degree. As long as we view prayer primarily as a means by which we can sustain our own Christian life, I am confident that we will not have a complete understanding of what it is supposed to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work, we will see that there is nothing that we need to study and practice as much as the art of praying in the right way. If I have been at all successful in pointing out the progressive teaching of our Lord concerning prayer and the distinct reference the beautiful promises of the last night (John xiv. 16) have to the works we are to do in His Name, to the greater works, and the bearing much fruit, then we will all admit that it is only when the Church gives herself up to this holy work of intercession that we can expect the power of Christ to manifest itself in her behalf. I pray that God will use this short book to make it clear to some of His children the wonderful place of power and influence that He is waiting for them to occupy, as well as the place that a worn-out world is waiting for them to occupy. As I’ve been studying what Jesus teaches us about prayer, I’ve realized something else that ties into this, and it’s become incredibly clear to me. It is this: that the Father waits to hear every prayer of faith, to give us whatever we will and whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus. The Father waits to hear every prayer of faith. We have become so accustomed to limiting the incredible love and the significant promises of our God that we are unable to read the simplest and clearest statements of our Lord without the qualifying clauses by which we guard and expound them. This is because we have become so accustomed to limiting the love of our God. If there is one thing that I believe the Church needs to learn, it is that when they pray to God, God intends for them to receive an answer. It is impossible for man to fathom what God will do for His child who humbles themselves enough to believe that their prayers will be heard and gives themselves over to the belief that they will be answered. Prayers are answered by God. This is an undeniable fact, but only a select few are able to comprehend its import or feel its influence on their lives. If what I have written inspires my reader to go to the words of the Master and take His wonderful promises literally as they stand, then I have succeeded in accomplishing my goal.
And finally, there is still one more thing. In recent years, thousands of people have discovered that learning how thoroughly Christ is our life and how He undertakes to be and do all in us that we require is an indescribable blessing. This discovery has occurred as a result of the realization that Christ completely is our life. I’m curious as to whether or not this reality has already been incorporated into our approach to prayer. Many people lament the fact that they are unable to pray with faith or to offer prayers that are powerful enough to accomplish much. The message that I would bring them is that the blessed Jesus is waiting, yearning to teach them this. He is eagerly anticipating their arrival. Christ is our life in heaven; He ever lives to pray; His life in us is an ever-praying life, if we will but trust Him for it. Christ teaches us to pray not only by setting an example for us to follow, instructing us, commanding us, and making promises to us, but also by showing us Himself as the ever-living Intercessor, who is also our Life. Our anxieties about not being able to pray effectively will be alleviated once we come to believe this and make Him the center of our prayer lives. We will trust in our Lord with joy and triumph, believing that He will teach us how to pray and that He will be the source of both the life and the power of our prayers.
We have been called to serve as His royal priesthood, so may God open our eyes to understand the holy ministry of intercession to which we have been called. We ask that He give us the capacity to believe that the prayers we say have a powerful impact on the world around us. And may all fear of not being able to fulfill our vocation vanish as we see Jesus living forever to pray, living in us to pray, and standing surety for our prayer life. [And] [may] all fears of not being able to fulfill our vocation vanish.
Wellington, 25th October 1885
Revised and Updated by Nathan Zipfel