Summary: We can pray with confidence when we know we’re praying “according to His will”? How do we know we're doing that? This message proposes four questions for processing that issue.
Our text today is 1 John 5:14-15, . “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”i
Our goal is to enjoy this confidence the Apostle John is talking about in this verse. We are searching the scriptures to understand more fully how to prevail in prayer. We want to be a people who pray, who pray in such a way that God hears and answers our prayers. Is it possible for common people like you and me to be mighty in prayer? Is it possible for us to be people who shake the world around us with the power of God? Yes, God is calling us to that. Elijah was a man of like passions. He was just as human as we are. Yet he prayed and turned a whole nation around.ii
But why do some prayers get answers and others do not? Does anyone here have an unanswered prayer? What have you asked God to do that has not happened? I suspect that every one of us can identify at least one pressing need that we have brought to the Lord in prayer and not received the answer. You may be praying for a loved one’s salvation. You may be praying for someone’s deliverance or perhaps a healing. Why isn’t the answer coming? What can be done about unanswered prayer? How do we deal with that?
We have already found in previous studies that our relationship with God is very important. We have learned from the Lord’s Prayer that we need to approach God with a certain mindset. The way we think about God; the way we think about other people; the way we think about sin—all of this affects our prayer life. “When you pray” (Jesus said) “say, ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:2). The Lord’s Prayer defines the attitude of heart that positions us before God to receive answers. An essential element is this posture is “Your kingdom come. Your will be done.…” That’s an all-out commitment to the will of God—not just for the specific request but for everything. It is a mindset based on absolute confidence in the goodness of God.iii No outcome could be better than the one He chooses. I may think something needs to happen; but I always remember that His wisdom is way above my level of understanding. So I want His will for my life and for everyone else. And I understand that prayer is an important factor in that happening.
Let me read the text in the Amplified version, “Now this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him,[we are sure] that if we ask anything(make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.”
Of course, the “we” in these verses is people who believe in and follow Christ. This is not a promise to any and everybody; it is a promise to God-followers.