John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Every Christian wants to know more of the Lord and especially in prayer our desire should be to pray with the mind of God. The Apostle Paul claimed to have the mind of Christ. It is tempting to think from the use of the word ‘we’ that all Christians of whatever level of spiritual maturity have the mind of Christ.
However, that apparently did not apply to the church in Corinth. In the very next chapter the Apostle upbraids them for being carnal rather than spiritual. They had some way to go before they would have the mind of Christ. Clearly there are no shortcuts to the throne-room.
Conditions to Be Met
The Lord Jesus laid down a number of conditions which need to be met before prayer will be answered in the exact way hoped when it was made. One of these conditions is given in the verse above: ‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you.’
Prayer at its best is a two way street. We set out our needs before the Lord and attend to his response. But there are occasions when we cry to the Lord for a particular outcome, and on those occasions especially we need to be praying with the mind of God himself lest we ask amiss, as the Apostle James puts it (Jas 4:3).
The place to find the mind of God is quite simply in the word of God and since our Lord Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the mind of God is the mind of Christ and the word of God is the word of Christ. Now we can bring the words with which we opened from first Corinthians and the Gospel of John together. Having the mind of Christ is the same thing as abiding in him and having his words abiding in us.
Prosperity and Success for the Lord
Turning to the quote from the book of Joshua, we all want to be prosperous and successful. But the context is that Joshua had a job to do. He had been commissioned by the Lord to take the people of Israel into the promised land. And he was successful at it precisely because the book of the law did not depart out of his mouth. He meditated therein and then did exactly what he had been told to do.
Scripture is teaching us that only by knowing the word of God, meditating in it, and having it never far from our mouths will we know the mind of God well enough to make our prayers heard, our way prosperous and our doings for the Lord successful.
Revelation of the Spirit
A couple of verses earlier in his letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote:
1Cor 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
We see here that to have the mind of Christ on any given subject we must not just search the Holy Scriptures but also listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through them. The Holy Spirit has to soften our hearts and illuminate our minds to make us receptive to the word of God. Too often we have baggage from the world which has to be cast off to make way for the spirit of God:
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
There is power in the Scriptures which we can only dimly discern. The Lord Jesus refuted the suggestions of Satan through his knowledge of the Scriptures, in point of fact through verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Satan was sent away with his tail between his legs.
At other times in his ministry, our Lord took those who were contending with him right back to the scriptures:
Matt 12:5 Have ye not read in the law?
Matt 21:16 Have ye never read?
Mark 12:10 And have ye not read this scripture?
Mark 12:26 Have ye not read in the book of Moses?
Luke 6:3 Have ye not read so much as this?
The Prophet Isaiah wrote this:
Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Word of God in our mouth
Joshua was told that the book of the Law should not depart out of his mouth. It seems a curious expression. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews recalls Jeremiah’s word from the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people’ (Heb 8:10 cf Jer 31:33).
We are rather more used to the word of God being in our minds and our hearts than in our mouths. Isaiah too speaks of a people who keep the law of God in their hearts, and he gives them a promise which we shall gratefully receive:
Isa 51:7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
Deut 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Speaking and Praying the Word
Teaching and talking constantly of the scriptures, about the scriptures, sharing and discussing the things of God, or being ‘ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’ (1Peter 3:15). Having the word of God so close to our mouths that we are as ready to give an answer to unbelievers as our Lord was to Satan only comes from studying the Scriptures and meditating prayerfully, just as Joshua was instructed.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
A lifetime of study, prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was behind that assertion.