Study 10 KNOWING GOD’S WILL WHEN WE PRAY
PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 John 5:1-15)
One of the most remarkable prayer-promises is recorded in 1 John 5:14-15. It tells us that it is possible for us to pray and not only to get the things we pray for, but to know beforehand that our prayers are heard and answered!
Assuming that I have the money to pay for the commodity I want, I can ‘phone my local retailer, who knows me well and who has supplied me many times before, and I can ask him to deliver the article. Now, whether I get the article depends on whether or not he has it in stock! If he has it he will be happy to supply it to me, and his answer to my enquiry will be, ‘Thank you, I promise you that the article is yours and you will receive it by the next delivery.’ I then turn to my friends and say, ‘Oh, I have so-and-so; I have just bought it.’ They reply, ‘Show it to me then’, and I answer by saying, ‘Well, I haven’t actually got it yet, but it’s mine and it’s most certainly coming.’ ‘Are you sure?’ they say. ‘Yes, I’ve ordered it and it’s on its way to me now,’ I reply. Now look at the words in 1 John 5:14-15 – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God (the One who knows us and who knows what things we need – Matthew 6:32), that if we ask (‘phone the One who knows us and offer our cheque that bears His name, His signature – John 14:14), anything according to His will (that is, anything that He has in stock for us), he hears us (that is, He accepts our order, our request), and if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask, (that is, if we know that He has accepted our order), we know that we have what we asked of him (we know the delivery will be made!)”
With this illustration in mind, notice the following truths in 1 John 5:14-15:-
- 1. This promise is made to a particular class of people. Just as I needed to be known by the retailer and to have an account with him, so before I can pray with confidence I must know the Lord and be known of Him as one who believes “in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13, first part). This is the fundamental condition of successful prayer. We must know the Lord and be known of Him; in other words, we must be Christians.
- 2. This promise reminds us that prayer is necessary for the accomplishment of God’s will. In the above illustration the order had to be placed before the required commodity could be delivered; and until the commodity was applied for, asked for and purchased, it would remain in the shop unsold. Now compare James 4:2 – there are things that the Lord does only when His people pray.
- 3. This promise makes confidence in prayer dependent upon asking according to His will (verse 14). For God to answer a prayer that does not harmonise with His will would be for Him to be inconsistent in His nature, and of course God, being God, could not be so.
- 4. This promise is given not to hinder our asking but to encourage it. We must not think that prayer is so difficult and that receiving things from God is such a hard business. To pray according to His will does not mean asking for less but for more; and if it means asking for more it means receiving more.
- 5. This promise implies that we may be absolutely sure of God’s will when we pray. Notice the words ‘confidence’ (verse 14) and ‘we know’ (verse 15), and compare John 11:41-42. We can be sure of His will when we pray, and if that is so, we can be sure of the answer. It is like the shop-keeper telling us that he has accepted our order and that the goods will be delivered in due course. But how can we be absolutely sure of God’s will when we pray?
1. HE REVEALS HIS WILL BY HIS WORD, THE BIBLE.
Over and over again we find specific statements which tell us what His gracious will is. For example:
- (1) We know it is God’s will that unconverted loved ones are convicted of their sin and made to feel their need of the Saviour because of John 16:7-8.
- (2) We know we are praying in the line of God’s will when we ask for the salvation of any man, woman or child on earth because of 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
- (3) We know that we are praying in line with His will when we ask for the sanctification of His people because of 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
- (4) We know it is God’s will to give us wisdom when we ask for it because of James 1:5.
- (5) We know it is God’s will for us to pray for labourers to be thrust out into the harvest-field because of Matthew 9:38.
But here is the problem: there are specific matters about which we want to pray and concerning which we can find no specific promise in the Bible. For example, Should I get married? Should I buy this house? Should I buy this particular car? Should I arrange a holiday? There are no specific promises – how, then, can I be sure of His will?
2. HE REVEALS HIS WILL BY HIS SPIRIT
Do revel in the wonder of Romans 8:26-27. If we belong to the Lord the Holy Spirit lives within us (Romans 8:9,11), and He is there to reveal to us the will of God in relation to prayer. If we would know how to pray according to His will, quite obviously we must read, study and obey His Word, the Bible, and we must live day by day in humble submission to the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit.