Study 8 GOD’S PLEDGE TO HEAR AND ANSWER PRAYER
THE LETTERS OF JOHN
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 John 5:14-21)
In 1 John 5:14-15 we find a most wonderful promise which tells us that it is possible for us to pray and not only get the things we pray for, but to know beforehand that our prayer is heard and answered. Read these verses and see how clear the promise is, and notice the following points:
- This promise is made to a particular class of people. Notice in verse 13 that if we are to come before God with confidence that He will hear and answer our prayer, we must be true believers - look up and compare verse 1. We must be Christians.
- This promise reminds us that prayer is necessary for the accomplishment of God’s will. There is an element of mystery here, but scripture teaches that there are some things that the Lord does only when His people pray - look up Ezekiel 36:37; James 4:2. If prayer is offered, God works; if prayer is not offered, His hand is held back.
- This promise makes confidence in prayer dependent upon our asking ‘according to His will’. This is made very clear in verse 14, and it is reasonable that it should be so, for if God were to answer prayer which does not harmonise with His will, it would be inconsistent with His nature; and of course God, being God, could not do such a thing.
- This promise is given, not to hinder our asking, but to encourage it. We must remove from our minds the idea that prayer is so difficult, and receiving things from God 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.
- This promise implies that we may be absolutely sure of God’s will when we pray. Notice the words ‘confidence’ (in verse 14), and ‘we know’ (in verse 15), and compare John 11:41-42. We may be absolutely sure of God’s will when we pray; and if we are sure of His will when we pray, we are absolutely sure of the answer.
All this leads us to ask: How may we be sure of Gods will when we pray?
1. HE REVEALS HIS WILL BY HIS WORD
The will of God is revealed in the Word of God, where over and over again we find specific statements which tell us what God’s gracious will is. For example:
- We know it is God’s will that our unconverted loved ones should be convicted of their sin and made to feel their need of the Saviour because of John 16:7-8. (For an illustration of this look up Acts 2:37-38; 16:25-31). This means that you may pray with confidence for the Holy Spirit to strive with your loved one or friend.
- We know we are praying in the line of God’s will when we ask for the salvation of any man, woman or child, because of 1 Timothy 2:1-4. (For further assurances look up Isaiah 45:22; Ezekiel 33:11; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9). This means you may pray with confidence for the salvation of your loved one or friends.
- We know that we are praying in the line of God’s will when we ask for the sanctification of His people, because of 1 Thessalonians 4:3. (For an example of Pauls prayer for the Christians at Ephesus to be sanctified look up Ephesians 3:13-19). This means that we may pray with confidence for our Christian friends to grow in grace.
- We know it is God’s will to give us wisdom when we ask for it, because of James 1:5. (For the way in which Solomon prayed for this, look up 2 Chronicles 1:9-12). This means that when we need special wisdom we may ask God for it knowing that He will give it.
- We know it is God’s will for us to pray for labourers to be thrust into the harvest-field, because of Matthew 9:38. (For the description of the way this happened, look up Acts 8:4,11,19-21; 13:1-4). This means that we may pray with confidence that the Lord will fill the gaps on the mission field.
These are only given as examples to show that in many matters we can know God’s will when we pray because He has revealed His will in His Word. But here is the problem: there are matters about which we can find no specific promise in the Word of God. For example: Should I get married? Should I buy this house? Should I go to Bible College? Should I retire? Should I join this church or that one?… There are no specific promises in the Bible that assure us of God’s will concerning these and many other matters. How, then, can I be sure of His will?
2. HE REVEALS HIS WILL BY HIS SPIRIT
Turn to Romans 8:26-27 and you will see that it completely covers our need. We do not know God’s will concerning a certain matter? Well, the Holy Spirit, who is God and who lives within us, comes to our aid and actually inspires the prayer within us which is in full agreement with God’s will. In other words, as we yield to Him and seek His will He makes the will of God known to us so that we can pray with confidence.
God’s will, then, may be known by His Word and by His Spirit, and we may be quite sure that the Holy Spirit will never lead us into any course of action contrary to what is written in His Word. To be sure of God’s will, we must read, study and obey the Word of God, and we must live day by day in humble submission to the Spirit of God - the Holy Spirit. If we do this we shall find we are constantly doing the asking …asking …asking… and God will constantly be doing the giving… giving… giving… ! ”Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24) - and so keep on praying!