Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The Confidence of Prayer

By Bill Brandstatter

One of the great blessings of being a Christian is answered prayer. We can have confidence and assurance as we pray to God. Some Christians appear to lack the confidence they need. Often a person might say, “I hope God heard my prayer.” Others may state, “I think God heard my prayer.” John tells us in 1 John 5:14 that we have assurance and a confidence that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

First, John states whose prayers will be heard. The simple word “we” tells us. He is writing to Christians; but He may also be writing to faithful Christians. He is writing to those who are born of God (1 Jn. 5:1,18). James reminds us that the “effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV) If I am where I need to be with God, He will hear and answer my prayer according to His will.

Next, John states we should ask. Jesus had said on one occasion that the Father knows what we need before we ask (Mt.6:8). If that is so, why ask? God wants us to show our humility and our trust in him. We don’t ask just to be asking. We ask to show we know who can help us and that help is beyond ourselves. James tells us that sometimes we may not get what we need because we don’t ask. He writes, “Yet, you do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2 NKJV) So, we must ask God with confidence that He will answer our prayers.

Then, John tells us that prayer must be according to His will. The will of God is sometimes revealed to us in Scripture. It is the will of God that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). I can understand the Lord’s will regarding prayer as well. The Lord’s will is that I am righteous when I pray (James 5:16). It is His will that I should pray without doubting (James 1:6). It is His will that I pray without ceasing (1 Th. 5:16). It is His will that I put away sin, and worship Him so that He will hear me (John 9:31).

I don’t know how God will answer my prayers. John says He will. I also don’t know when. His answer may be yes. The answer may be no. The answer may be for us to wait awhile. When Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, he got a different answer than what he expected. It was an answer, however, according to God’s will. The response from God was “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 NKJV).

He hears us. This is important to us. God hearing us simply means He answers our prayers. Some have argued that God hears all prayers. In the way John uses it, that is not so. God hears or responds to those who ask according to His will; but man sometimes blocks the connection. Here is what Isaiah adds, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” (Isa.59:1, 2) What great assurance we have! If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. The more we know about Him, the more confidence we will have of our prayers being answered. John writes in 1 Jn. 5:15--“And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

One of the great assurances of the Christian is answered prayer. I am glad God hears and God answers, aren’t you?

- Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/

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