1 John 5:14-15 (NASB)
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
These verses offer one of the Bible’s best definitions of prayer. The meaning and marvel of prayer grows deeper and more practical as phrase builds upon phrase.
Writing near the end of the apostolic age, the apostle John wanted us to know something about the biblical promises related to prayer. They are all conditioned by God’s will. In his Gospel, for example, John quoted Jesus as saying, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14). Anything is a huge word, and perhaps some of John’s readers had taken it a bit too literally. So, in 1 John 5:14, he reminds us that the promise of answered prayer is dependent on the phrase “according to His will.”
From the perspective of infinity, our God knows what’s best from beginning to end. He sees the outcomes of every chain reaction in life. His perfect, providential oversight makes no mistakes and always results in the best for His children.
Our vantage point is as limited as a person who’s fallen into a hole and can only see a circle of sky above him. We don’t always know the landscape, and we can’t see distant vistas. So, we pray earnestly and ask God for our needs, our wants, our wishes, and our desires. But we always pray with the attitude, “if it be Your will.” In that we can have total confidence.
The Bible is full of facts about prayer; Notice the constant repetition that drives this passage into our hearts.
This is the confidence… we know… we know.
Whenever we ask… whatever we ask.
Anything according to His will.
He hears… He hears… we have.
When God Says No
- Abraham earnestly prayed that Ishmael would become the son of promise and the heir of his legacy, but God said no. He had something better, a line of descent through the boy Isaac.
- Moses earnestly prayed to cross the river Jordan with the children of Israel, but God said no. He had a younger leader named Joshua and a better promised land for the aged Moses.
- David prayed earnestly for the joy of building a temple to the Lord, but God said no. He had something better—for David to plan the project and for his son Solomon to do the work.
- Jonah prayed earnestly that he would die, but God said no. He had something better—for Jonah to learn the lessons of compassion and write it down in a book that would thrill the ages.
- The healed demonic in Mark 5 prayed that he could travel around as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, but the Lord said no. He had something better—that he go home to his friends and tell them what great things the Lord had done for him and had shown him mercy.
- The apostle Paul prayed earnestly to be healed from his disease, which he described as a thorn in the flesh. But God said no. He had something better—for Paul to discover the all-sufficiency of His grace.
We can have confidence that God hears our prayers if we are in Him, that is, in Christ (1 John 5:14). We can approach God in Christ and in Christ alone. Christ alone is the righteous One, the only perfect Person; therefore, He alone has the right to stand before God. Any person who wishes to approach God must come in the name of Jesus Christ. A person must believe on the name of the Son of God and approach God in His name. The name of Jesus Christ is the only acceptable name to God, the only name that can receive anything from God.