Christian Confidence: Some thoughts on 1 John 5:13-21 (Number 2)

How we can have confidence in prayer. (v14-15)

1Jn 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1Jn 5:15  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
1Jn 5:16  If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life–to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
1Jn 5:17  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. (ESV)

  There is no trick to getting your prayers answered. Prayer is not a magic spell, but a trusting request based on a loving relationship. Answered prayer depends not on getting the incantation right, as in a spell, or coming up with the right formula as in so much religious practice. Instead we are to put confident trust in the goodness of God and his will.

DSC_0072-1We can have confidence that God listens with approval when we ask him for anything in accordance with his will. Here are a few thoughts about how we might apply this idea:

  1. God’s answers to our prayers are subject to his will, not ours. While preparing, I came across a web page whose author claimed that: “I cracked the code… …In a moment, I’ll share with you exactly how I did it — and how you can do it, too. You see, when I discovered the skills and principles that caused almost all of my struggles to do an amazing about-face, I wanted to share it with people…. …I will teach you, step by step, simple techniques I learned along the way to create anything quickly and easily; and how to get answers to all your prayers.” And she will for a one off payment of $147.
    The simple truth, that we need to be reminded of is that God is in charge, not us. He hears us when we ask according to his will.
  2. God always answers prayer, but he does not always say yes. A number of years ago, I read a helpful little book entitled “God’s five answers to prayer” by Fred Crix. God does not always say yes. Sometimes he says “yes”, sometimes he says “no”, sometimes he says “wait”, sometimes he says “Do it yourself” and sometimes he says “None of your business.”
  3. God is kind enough to restrict the “yes” answers to prayer to those things which are in accordance with his will. I’m going to make a confession. My daughter can sometimes get what she wants merely through persistence. I’m not a good Father in that sometimes I give in for the sake of some peace and quiet. My heavenly Father will never do that. Therefore we should pray with confidence that our Father will not give us that which is not in accordance with his will.
  4. Don’t worry whether its OK to pray about it. Sometimes we think, this is too small to bother the Father with. We are told “if we ask anything” and “he hears us in whatever we ask”
  5. Ask him for things that he has already declared are his will for you to have. As you read the scriptures study make a habit of studying the promises of God  for those things which he has declared are his will, so that you might ask for them with confidence.
  6. We should pray with confidence for brothers and sisters who we see flagrantly sinning. It seems from verse 16 that the Christians to whom John wrote were wondering if they should pray for those who sinning. John is keen that his readers understand that this kind of prayer would be in accordance with God’s will. We should pray with confidence that God would give life to them. Verses 16-17 also comprise a warning however. There is sin that leads to death, and given the content of his letter, John probably has in mind those who have “apostatized” by deserting the gospel and leaving the church.
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