Summary: To be effective intercessors, we must learn how to pray according to God’s will and how to access the power availalbe because of the cross.
As we have looked at the various principles of intercession, we have talked about the principle of Applied Priesthood, and how we need to be willing to develop a sacrificial, submissive, sympathetic faith as we come before God and make requests on behalf of others who do not have a right relationship nor a good standing with God themselves.
And last time, we looked at the Principle of Appropriated Promise, where we learned that God calls us to face Him with the prospect of seeing others come to faith in Christ.
Today, we are going to consider two other Principles of Intercession: the Principle of Answered Prayer and the Principle of Available Power.
3. The Principle of Answered Prayer - 1 John 5:14-15
John says that if we pray according to God’s will, we can be confident that He hears us; and if He hears us, we know we have what we desire. The Principle of Answered Prayer then, relates to the idea of praying according to the will of God. Let’s apply this principle to intercessory prayer. What does it mean to pray “according to God’s will”?
A. To approach God with a surrendered life.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” - Psalm 66:18 (Amplified)
Daniel Henderson points out that when Jesus told us to go into our “closet” to pray, he wasn’t referring to a small space where we hang our wardrobe. When the KJV was translated in 1611, it was common knowledge that Jesus was referring to an audience chamber, where groups would have meetings. The people in 1611 would have understood that their king and queen had such “closets” where they received guests and heard requests. If I had an audience with a King, I would wouldn’t enter his
“closet” wearing something that was stained and filthy if I wanted him to give me a hearing. Why then would I think my heavenly King should give me a hearing, when my heart is stained with sin?
“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” - 1 John 1:9 (Amplified)
B. To approach God with a submissive heart.
If I pray according to God’s will, I will want God’s will above all else. This relates to being willing for God to answer in whatever way He desires. To pray with a submissive attitude means that we accept what Jesus told us in Matthew 7:9-11 about the goodness of God:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” - Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV)
“Give to a pig when it grunts and a child when he cries,and you will have a fine pig and a bad child.” - Danish proverb
Our Father is raising children, not pigs. John says our confidence in approaching God comes from knowing He only gives what is best.
If I really believe that God is good and wants only the best for me, then I will pray, willing to submit to God’s will; and I will persist in prayer about it, until God either answers “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait a while,” knowing that any of these answers will be the best for me. As a result of persistent prayer, my desires will be shaped to conform to His will.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” - Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
“If I throw out a boat hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” - E. Stanley Jones
C. To approach God in a Scriptural manner.
God’s will never contradicts God’s Word. The more I can pray in line with the Scripture, the more I can be sure I am praying “according to God’s will.” For example, I can be confident I am praying according to God’s will” when I pray for those who are without Christ.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all peopleto be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” - 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV)
Additionally, according to the Scripture, I can know I am praying “according to God’s will” when I pray for wayward believers.