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"Confidence in Prayer"
1 John 5:14-15
Wednesday AM Bible Study
March 1, 2006
In the Old Testament book of Esther, we're told of how the Jewish woman
Esther - wife of the then ruler of the world - saved her people by making an
appeal to her husband. It was a capital offense for someone to approach the
king unless the king called them. The only exception would be if the king
extended his scepter to the one approaching him (Esther 4:11). Esther
approached the king; and he responded by extending his scepter - which was a
sign that she had found favor in his sight. And he even said that he would
grant her request - even up to half his kingdom (Esther 5:2-3).
This underscores for us what a privilege prayer is. We don't merely draw
near an earthly king, but to the almighty God of the universe; and find
that, in Christ, He accepts us very freely - even calling us His children.
And we find that He doesn't grant us merely up to half His kingdom; but
freely gives us all that we ask of Him. This morning's passage from 1 John
reminds us of our great privilege in prayer.
Prayer is the greatest resource in the universe that mere human beings can
ever draw upon; because by it, God condescends to act on our behalf in
accordance with His limitless power. The most effective thing we can ever
do is pray - as proven in the remarkable experience of others such as Elijah
(James 5:17-18; 1 Kings 17 and 18); Joshua (10:12-14); and kings Asa (2
Chronicles 14:11-13) and Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:7-8; 2 Kings 19:14-19).
The Bible promises us the power through prayer to change nations (2
Chronicles 7:17; Jeremiah 1:10). Jesus told us that nothing will be
impossible through prayer (Matthew 21:21-22; 17:20). This morning's passage
encourages us to make full use of this greatest of all resources. Here, we
see . . .
I. THE BELIEVER'S 'CONDITION' FOR PRAYER.
A. The condition is that prayer be "according to His will" (v. 14).
1. We must be in His will, in the sense that we are "in Christ". We must
be "abiding" in Christ (John 15:7; see also 1 John 3:21-22). This doesn't
mean that we ourselves must be perfect before we can be heard; but we must
not be harboring secret sin in our lives (Psalm 66:18).
2. We must be oriented toward His will, in the sense that it must be the
fulfillment of His will that we are after. He works all things after His
own will (Eph. 1:11); and so, our asking must be in conformity with the way
He works all things. (See James 4:3). We must ask "in Jesus' name"; that
is, under Jesus' authority and in conformity to what He Himself would want
(John 14:13-14; 15:16). (As an aside, we should read our Bibles often to
get to know Jesus better, so we will know better how to ask "in His name".)
3. We must ask for what is clearly His will; that is, the things we ask
must be what He wants to give. Jesus taught us to pray in this way (Matthew
6:10; 26:39). We are commanded to know from the Scripture what God's will
is (Eph. 5:17); and as we look, we find His will clearly expressed (2 Peter
3:9; 1 Thess. 4:3; John 6:40; 1 Thess 5:18; 1 Peter 2:15, 3:17).
B. We may say; "Well, if it must be according to His will, why pray?" The
obvious answer is that it conforms us to His will. It isn't a matter of God
conforming to our will; but rather of us becoming conformed to His.
II. THE BELIEVER'S 'CONFIDENCE' IN PRAYER.
A. We can be confident that He hears us. This is an affirmation of His
acceptance of us. He wants us to talk to Him; and delights in it when we
bring our requests to Him (John16:22-27).
B. We can also be confident in that He hears us concerning "whatever we
ask". Our welfare is His great concern; and we are welcome to cast our
every care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). If we delight ourselves in Him, then the
thing that we want will be what He wants (Psalm 3:3-6). He is glad to give
us the desires of our heart because they would be His as well (Phil.
C. We can even be confident of the outcome; because "if we know that He
hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have
asked". Dr. John Mitchell said that God here offers us "a touch of
omnipotence". We even have the petition as a current reality - and even more
than we ask; because He is able to exceed our request (Eph. 3:20).