Pleasing God is the element in abiding that we will consider here. I have called it holiness because that is exactly how we please Him—by our holiness.
In 1 John 3:22 we find that the promise of answered prayer comes to us when we keep His commandments and do those things that please Him: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” Notice that the requirement of pleasing God is not by itself; it is coupled with the requirement of keeping His commandments—the chief of which is to love God and others. This tells us that the two go together and that they cannot be separated. We cannot please God without obeying Him and we cannot truly obey Him without pleasing Him.
But the fact that the two requirements are separated tells us also that they are different. Obedience by itself is merely doing what God has told us to do. But pleasing Him goes beyond just obeying what He has commanded us in His Word. When we please Him we will do what we know He wants us to do, and we will not do what we know He doesn’t want us to do—regardless of whether we have a Biblical commandment or instructions.
Therefore, the idea of pleasing God is different than obeying Him, because it requires that we know Him on a deeper level. When I obey God I may do it just because it is required of me and because I feel that I love Him. But to please Him I must really get to know Him and what He desires of me; then I do what He desires of me. This of course demands my holiness, for He is holy and desires that we be holy.
All these things are true of the abiding Christian. He does more than just obey God; he gets to know Him and what He desires. He especially puts forth an effort to be holy. Therefore, he is always on his guard regarding what he does, what he sees, and what he thinks about. He is constantly asking himself if the activity he is about to do will please God. For example, he never watches anything on TV or goes to any movies that God would not approve of.
There is so much to consider if you want to please God. It includes everything we do and think about. Here are two reasons why I think pleasing God keeps us abiding, and therefore helps us to pray and find answers to prayer:
1. When we please God we are able to see Him and communicate with Him better. Since pleasing God is in fact being holy, when we please Him He gives us spiritual eyes to see Him and spiritual ears to hear Him in prayer. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
2. Pleasing God produces a faith in us to pray with confidence. When we please God with the good works we do, especially in our love for others, it will always produce in us a happy assurance that we are truly Christians. This assurance, apparently, has a cleansing effect on our conscience so that we will not feel guilty and condemned. As a result, we will be able to pray with confidence. 1 John 3:21-22 says,
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.