No Fear in Love

We keep coming back to the fact that relationship with God is the essential context for prayer. Jesus put the two together in the word picture of the vine and branches: “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) He is speaking to His closest disciples– not just anyone on the street, but those who know Him and love Him, and who will follow Him to the cross and beyond. He is describing a prayer life that pours out of living in His presence….flows from our understanding of His written words and Himself, the very Word of God. The prayers are a conversation between our spirits and our Heavenly Father, a result of our connection with Him and our delight in Him.

It reminds me of the mutual absorption and delight of new lovers, gazing into each other’s eyes with so much to say and never enough time to say it all, when every turn of the head and every sentence is a new revelation of the Beloved. There is nothing we could not ask of that person. Why is it then, that we tend to measure our relationship with God by the response we receive from Him, as if prayer were a loves-me-loves-me-not test of cosmic proportion? As if His love for me were measured in His Yes to my desires, when God has already answered my deepest needs with His great and precious promises in Christ. When we truly see the deep everlasting love of God at the cross– grab onto it with both hands for our very lives– there is no need for uncertainty in our relationship with Him. This is how John can say that love-without-fear will be a defining mark of the person abiding in Christ: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…..There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)

Spurgeon articulates well how this loving relationship affects both the nature of our prayers and the fruit they bear: “I see clearly why the branch gets all it wants while it abides in the stem, since all it wants is already in the stem and placed there for the sake of the branch….in such a man as that there is a predominance of grace that causes him to have a renewed will, which is according to the will of God.” (The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life) In other words, a person who walks and talks with Jesus constantly and naturally in everyday life trusts the heart of the One in whom he abides, because he knows Him well. And even if he desires something with all his heart, yet he will hesitate in thinking he knows best or is qualified to judge in the matter, and will gladly defer to the decision of the Branch in Whom he lives and breathes and has his being. No wonder Jesus can promise that our hearts’ desires will be accomplished for us, when He describes that kind of relationship with people who follow Him.

In the same way, abiding helps us understand the answers we receive from God. If our hearts are delighting in Him and pursuing deeper knowledge of the Beloved One, then every answer He gives is a means to that end…not only when our desires are affirmed and granted, but also when He counsels us to wait or gives us only the answer of His presence and peace. Regardless of the answer, still we are learning to know Him.

I listen to the older-and-wiser saints who have learned to live in vital connection to the Vine, and see their serene understanding that everything He does is an expression of His everlasting love and kindness, no matter how it feels or appears in the moment. “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all– how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) It’s one thing to believe this in our heads, but as we practice abiding, and grow in our close relationship with the Savior, we begin to rest in this truth with our whole hearts. We taste and see for ourselves that His ways are good. And we begin to see how all His answers are nothing but grace and love poured out on us, even when it hurts or we do not understand.

Lord Jesus, heal the wounded places that have left us un-trusting and un-resting. Straighten the bent spirits, the handicaps that cause us to struggle to love, fully and unafraid. Strengthen the despairing hearts, the weary and the broken, that we may be able to hope for all good things from Your hand. Restore us and make us new– enable us to live in relationship with You, moment by moment, as Your creatures were meant to live from the Beginning. This is our prayer.


Prayer is not begging God to do something for us that He doesn’t know about, or begging God to do something for us that He is reluctant to do, or begging God to do something that He hasn’t time for. In prayer we persistently, faithfully, trustingly come before God, submitting ourselves to His sovereignty, confident that He is acting, right now, on our behalf.

Eugene Peterson


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened

Matthew 7:7-8