“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” ~ 1 John 5:14-15
These verses of Scripture assure us that God hears ALL our requests and gives us whatever we have requested… BUT there is a “catch”, there is a caveat. Namely, we must ask “according to His will”: The guarantee of God’s audience and of a positive response is only for those requests made “according to His will”.
These assertions have significant implication for the prayer life of a Believer. Let us examine two of them.
1. AUDIENCE is by AGENDA
We don’t come to God on our agenda, we come to God on His agenda. With modern-day casualness, we seem to forget God’s Sovereignty. We forget He is King.
We cannot assume entry into God’s presence on our terms and according to our wills. And, when we are in God’s presence, our concern must be His agenda not ours. Jesus’ death on The Cross opened direct access to God for forgiveness of our sins. But God is still our King and we must approach Him as such. Recall the first lines of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples:
“…Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 6:9b-10
The prayer OPENS with an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty (“Hallowed be thy name”) and petition for God’s will to be done (“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”), which establishes the premise, the foundation, for the rest of the prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread” according to thy will my King; “forgive us our debts” according to thy will my King… and so on.
The prayer is therefore focused on the will of our Father, rather than the ‘needs’ of His children. To be clear, the needs are important, but only as they fit into God’s agenda, only as they accomplish His will.
Consider this human example: None of us can walk into Windsor Castle in London, England, and engage Queen Elizabeth in conversation about the things we want her to do. Similarly, no one could walk into The White House in Washington, D. C., and open a discussion with the US President about their personal concerns and what he should do about them.
In both examples, we would first have to request an audience AND that audience would only be granted if it coincided with their agendas. In short, they must both want to see us and to discuss the topics that coincide with their interests.
If such honor is afforded mere human leaders, how much more honor should we give the God of the universe?
2. FOCUS on GOD’S WILL not OUR WANT
Our passage forces us to shift our focus. If, the only prayers that are guaranteed to be heard and approved by God, are those which conform to His will, then it behooves us to find out exactly what God’s will is.
Before I ask God for something I want, I must first ask Him what He wants for me… THEN ask Him for that!
The focus of our prayer lives must then shift from telling God what we need/want to asking God what He wants for us. Therefore when we pray, it’s not about us, it’s about Him: it’s about conforming to His will, and NOT about trying to get God to do our will.
This is crucial, because our prayer life is often a source of frustration for us. We pray for God to do things we feel are important, and we grow frustrated when we see no result. Indeed, many Believers find themselves praying less and hoping less. In our hearts we ask, “Why should we bother to pray when nothing seems to happen?” And our prayers become perfunctory and pallid; our faith flounders and becomes flaccid.
The first step in a powerful prayer-life is seeking the will of God. We must let go of our wills our wants and our wishes. And replace them with God’s will “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10). Once we have aligned ourselves with God’s will then ALL our prayers will be answered in the affirmative: God will say YES!
To help us grasp this concept, let us ask ourselves this question: “Whose will do I want established, my will or God’s will?”
If we are seeking the establishment of our own wills (regardless of how “altruistic” that might be) we will be frustrated. Conversely, if we are seeking the establishment of God’s will, then we will pray for revelation of God’s will and for God’s will to be done: we will forget about ourselves.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~ Matthew 6:33