21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (I John 3:21-22)
John begins vs. 21 with the familiar term of endearment “beloved.” The apostle reminds the reader of his fond affection for his fellow believers in Christ.
As he continues, John wants his fellow Christians to understand that as we strive to live holy lives and pursue obedience to God’s commands, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will confirm our right standing before God. From the human perspective, this means that our thinking, our feelings and our decisions in this life will not say to us that we have done something wrong. Remember, this understanding of what is right or wrong is based upon our thinking, feelings and decisions in relationship to the Word of God as our source of authority.
Dr, John Walvoord does lend a note of caution when he writes, “John does not mean that all whose hearts do not condemn them, are therefore safe before God; for some have their conscience seared, others are ignorant of the truth. Therefore, it is not only sincerity, but sincerity in the truth which can save men. Christians are those meant here: knowing Christ’s precepts and testing themselves by them.”
With this in mind, the believer in Christ has confidence in God in prayer. We may approach God and receive what we ask of Him knowing that we have asked with right and biblical motives. In other words, we are praying while at the same time we are keeping God’s commandments and therefore doing what pleases Him.
Well over 20 years ago, a man approached me and told me that he was going to divorce his wife. He gave me his reasons for this decision, none of which were biblical, and then proceeded to tell me that he had prayed about it and that it was okay. While his heart did not condemn him for this decision, the Word of God indeed did in light of the fact that he was carrying on an affair with a mutual friend of he and his wife.
We must not believe that our prayers have no relationship with God’s Word. Rather, our prayers must be shaped and honed by the Scriptures.
Charles Spurgeon writes, “He who has a clear conscience comes to God (in prayer) with confidence, and that confidence of faith ensures to him the answer of his prayer. Childlike confidence makes us pray as none else can. It makes a man pray for great things, which he would never have asked for it he had not learned this confidence. The man of obedience is the man whom God will hear, because his obedient heart leads him to pray humbly, and with submission.”
A committed heart of obedience to the Lord will result in a confident heart of prayer before the Lord.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!