14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)
What does it mean to have confidence in one’s prayer life? In other words, what does it mean to pray confidently?
The word confidence (παρρησία; parresia) means to have boldness or courage. This implies intimidating circumstances which require the believer to be bold and courageous. Synonyms include the words nerve, valor, daring, resolve and guts.
Within the context of today’s text, the believer in Christ may possess a boldness and courage when approaching God in prayer. This confidence is “that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
To ask (αἰτώμεθα; aitometha) means to ask with urgency even to the point of demanding. It means to plead. The Apostle John writes that the believer in Christ has a boldness and a confidence to plead with God, even to the point of demanding, for what they need.
However, the caveat, or qualification, in such bold and confident prayer is that the believer is to ask according to the Lord’s will. This basic perspective in prayer is not new. Jesus taught the same principle in Matthew 6. Remember the phrase, “Thy will be done?”
The word will (θέλημα; thelema) refers to God’s intent, purpose and plan. Therefore, the individual who boldly and confidently prays to God must do so with an attitude of submission to the will of God. Man has a will and so does God. However, God’s will always is greater and more authoritative that the will of man.
The result of praying in such a manner is the promise that God hears our prayer. To hear (ἀκούει; akouei) means to listen and to respond. In other words, God pays attention to our prayers when we boldly and confidently approach Him in submission to His will and purpose. God always hears and responds to our prayers, even though His response will always be in accordance to His sovereign will for our lives.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Christians can know with absolute confidence that God answers prayer when they approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). This phrase (according to his will) constitutes a strategic key to answered prayer. To pray according to God’s will is to pray in accord with what he would want, not what we would desire or insist that he do for us (John 14:13–14). John already specified that answered prayer also depends on obedience to God’s commandments and avoidance of sin (1 John 3:21; Ps. 66:18; John 15:7; 1 Pet. 3:7). Since genuine believers know God’s word (i.e., his will) and practice those things that are pleasing to him, they never insist on their own will, but supremely seek God’s desires (Matt. 26:39–42).”
Psalm 34:15-17 says, “15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
An additional promise is found in vs. 15: “And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” The believer will receive what they ask God for because they are asking in light of God’s will in their lives. They want what God wants. What could be better.
Our Lord hears our prayers. Therefore, we can boldly approach His throne of grace and find help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). Pray in such a way today.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!