About 100 years ago, Andrew Murray (1828-1917) wrote “With Christ in the school of prayer.” I read it in 1949 and heartily recommend you purchase that book for your own personal blessing and growth in faith. One of the chapters of that book is titled “My words in you” the alternative title being “The Word and Prayer.” That book and specially that chapter has been a great incentive and inspiration to my personal prayer life since I was a young believer. For your enjoyment, inspiration and encouragement, I hereunder present to you my very own shirt-sleeve English version of Murray’s antique Victorian words:
But first let us read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ recorded in several versions of John 15a,7:
“Abide in Me, and I in you… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. (NAS).
“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you… If you remain in Me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (NIV).
“Dwell in Me and I will dwell in you… If you live in Me–abide vitally united to Me–and my words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.” (Amplified).
“Maintain a living communion with Me, and I with you… If you maintain a living communion with Me and My words are at home in you, I command you to ask, at once, something for yourself, whatever your heart desires, and it will become yours.” (Wuest Expanded).
“Take care to live in me, and let me live in you.” (John 15:4a TLB).
The living link between the Word of God and prayer is one of the simplest and earliest enjoyments of God Himself as your Christian life. As a newly-converted heathen put it when he began reading God’s Book, the Bible: “I read–my Father speaks to me. I pray–I speak to my Father.”
Before I pray, it is God’s Word that prepares me for it by showing me what the Father wants me to ask.
In prayer, it is God’s Word that encourages me and strengthens me by giving my faith its God-given guarantee and even the very words to use in my prayer.
And after prayer, it is God’s Word that brings me the answer, for in it the Holy Spirit enables me to hear the Father’s voice.
Prayer is not monologue; but dialogue, it is conversing with God; God’s voice in response to mine. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.
“Incline thine ear, and hear;” “Give ear to me;” “Hearken to my voice;” are words which God speaks to man as well as man to God. His hearkening, heeding, listening to us, will depend on ours. The reception His words find inside me, will be the measure of the power of my words inside Him. What God’s words are to me, is the test of what He Himself is to me. God’s Word tests the reality and sincerity of how much I desire God in my prayer.
It is this relationship between His Word and our prayer that Jesus points to when He says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” The profound importance of this truth becomes clear if we notice the other expression of which this one has taken the place. More than once Jesus had said, “Abide in me and I in you.” His abiding in us, His staying in us, was the complement and the crown of our abiding, remaining, staying in Him. But here, instead of “Ye in me and I in you,” He says, “Ye in me and my words in you.” His words abiding in us, staying in us, are the equivalent of Himself abiding.
What a vast panorama this unfolds to us of a place the words of God in Christ are to have in our spiritual life, and especially in our prayer. In a man’s words he reveals himself. In his promises, he gives himself away. He binds himself to the one who receives his promise. In his commands he sets forth his will, seeks to make himself master of him whose obedience he requests, to guide and use him as if he were part of himself. Every human has a body, a soul and a spirit. It is through our words that our spirit communes and fellowships with someone else’s spirit. It is through the words of a man, heard and accepted, and held fast and obeyed, that he can impart himself to another. But all this in a very relative and limited sense.
But when God, the infinite Being, in whom everything is life and power, spirit and truth, in the very deepest meaning of the words–when God speaks forth Himself in His words, He does indeed give HIMSELF, His love and His life, His Will and His Power, to those who receive these words, in a reality passing comprehension. In every promise He puts Himself in our power to apprehend, to lay hold of and possess; in every command He puts Himself in our power for us to share with Him His Will, His Holiness, His Perfection. In God’s Word, God gives us HIMSELF. His Word is nothing less than the Eternal Son, Christ Jesus. “His name is called THE WORD OF GOD.” (Revelation 19:13). And so all Christ’s words are God’s words, full of Divine enlivening and empowering, which His staying in us is; ready and available to express all that He is to us, for us, through us and with us. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”
Those who have studied the deaf and dumb, tell us how much the power of speaking depends on that of hearing, and how the loss of hearing in children is followed by that of speaking too. This is true in a wider sense: as we hear, so we speak. This is true in the highest sense of our communicating with God. To offer a prayer–to express certain wishes of ours and to ask God to give us what He promises–is an easy thing, and can be learned of man by human wisdom. But to pray by the inspiration and help of the Holy Spirit, to speak words that reach and touch God, that affect and influence the powers of the unseen world–such praying, such speaking, depends entirely upon hearing God’s voice. Just as far as we listen to the voice, words and way that God speaks, and in the words of God receive His thoughts, His mind, His life, into our heart, we shall learn to speak in the voice, words and way that God hears. It is the ear of the learner, wakened morning by morning, that prepares for the tongue of the learned, to speak to God as well as men, as should be. (Isaiah 29:11,12; 50:4).
This hearing the voice of God is something more than a scholarly study of the Bible. There may be a study and knowledge of the Scriptures, in which there is but little real communing with the living God. But there is also a reading of God’s Word, in the very presence of the Father, and under the leading of the Holy Spirit, in which the Word comes to us in living power from God Himself; it is to us the very voice of the Father, a real personal fellowship with Himself. It is the living voice of God that enters the heart, that brings blessing and strength, and awakens the response of a living faith that reaches the heart of God again.
It is on this hearing the voice, that the power both to obey and believe depends. The chief thing is, not to know what God has said we must do, but that God Himself says it to us. It is not the law, and not the book, not the knowledge of what is right, that works obedience, but the personal influence of God and His living fellowship. And even so it is not the knowledge of what God has promised, but the presence of God Himself as the Promisor, that awakens faith and trust in prayer. It is only in the full presence of God that disobedience and unbelief become impossible. God does not favor your merely learning a religious technique, a protocol as to how to properly address Him. He really desires a true, lively and loving relationship with you.
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, it shall be done unto you.” We see what this means. In the words the Savior gives Himself. We must have the words in us, taken up into our will and life, reproduced in our disposition and conduct. We must have them abiding in us: our whole life one continued manifestation of the words that are within, and filling us; the words revealing Christ within, and our life revealing Him without. It is as the words of Christ enter our very heart, become our life and influence it, that our words will enter His heart and influence Him. My prayer will depend on my life; what God’s words are to me and in me, my words will be to God and in God. If I do what God says, God will do what I say.
How well the Old Testament saints understood this living connection between God’s words and ours, and how really prayer with them was the loving response to what they had heard God speak! If the word was a promise, they counted on God to do as He had spoken. “Do as Thou hast said;” “For Thou, Lord, hast spoken it.;” “According to Thy promise;” “According to Thy Word;” in such expressions they showed that what God spoke as a promise was the root and the life of what they spoke in prayer. If the word was a command, they simply did as the Lord had spoken: “So Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken.” Their life was fellowship with God, communing with God, the interchange of word and thought. What God spoke they heard and did; what they spoke God heard and did. In each word He speaks to us, the whole Christ gives Himself to fulfil it for us. For each word He asks no less that we give ourselves unreservedly to keep that word, and to receive its fulfillment.
“If my words abide in you:” the condition is simple and clear. In His words His will is revealed. As the words abide in me, His will rules me; my will becomes the empty vessel which His will fills, the willing instrument which His will handles; He fills my inner being. As I practice obedience and faith my will becomes even stronger, and is brought into deeper inner harmony with Him. He can fully trust it to will nothing but what He wills; He is not afraid to give the promise, “If my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, it shall be done unto you.” To all who believe it, and act upon it, He will make it literally true.
Disciples of Christ, is it not becoming more and more clear to us that while we have been excusing our unanswered prayers, our impotence in prayer, with a fancied submission to God’s wisdom and will, the real reason has been that our own feeble life has been the cause of our feeble prayers. Nothing can make strong men but the word coming to us from God’s mouth: by that we must live. It is the word of Christ, loved, staying in us, abiding in us, becoming through obedience and action part of our being, that makes us one with Christ, that fits us spiritually for touching, apprehending, and taking hold of God. All that is of “the world passeth away… he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:17). O let us yield our heart and life to the words of Christ, the words in which He ever gives HIMSELF, the personal living Savior, and His promise will be our rich experience: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Blessed Lord, Your lesson this day has again exposed my foolishness. I see how it is that my prayer has not been more believing and prevailing. I was more occupied with my speaking to You than Your speaking to me. I did not understand that the secret of faith is this: there can be only so much faith as there is of the Living Word residing in my soul and my spirit.
And Your Word has taught me so clearly: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak; let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God.” Lord, teach me that it is only with Your Word taken up into my life that my words can be taken into Your heart. As I allow Your Word to be a living power within me, my reading Your Word prayerfully, my prayers based on Your Word, will be a living power within You. What Your mouth has spoken Your hand will perform.
Lord, deliver me from the uncircumcised ear. Give me the open ear of the learner, wakened morning by morning to hear the Father’s voice. Even as You did only speak what You heard from the Father, may my speaking be the echo of Your speaking to me. “When Moses went into the tabernacle to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking unto him from off the mercy-seat.” Lord, may it be so with me too. Let my life and character manifest that Your words remain in me and are being expressed through me. May that be the preparation for the full blessing of daily asking and receiving your promise: “Ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Amen.
From Communing With God – Chapter 4
Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached many Cubans with many new believers added to the house of God. The work is ongoing to evangelize the entire island country.