Confidence in prayer
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:13-15
The purpose of John writing the epistle and gospel was to give assurance to believers. After he provided the assurance Christians have when they place their faith in the name of Christ, he now turn to the assurance of approaching God in prayer (1 John 5:14–17). Of course, it is not very assuring if a person does not pray regularly. We must experience prayer. We cannot receive the assurance that God “hears us” if we do not pray. To a certain extent, John is enlarging what he said about prayer in 1 John 3:21-22, where he also suggested it as a means of gaining confidence; “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” From our text, he specifies that confident prayer requires asking “anything according to his will.” Meaningful prayer flows from the attitude of a submissive child, not a spoiled one. Indeed, prayer involves more than just asking for things. It is how we develop our personal relationships with God. In prayer, we experience what abiding in Christ means. John highlighted this matter in the gospel. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). This is why it is important for a child of God to know and understand “what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). We show our love to God when we keep His commandments. “This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Once we know that we are a child of God because we placed our faith in the saving work of Christ at the cross, then it follows that we will obey His commands. This is what provides assurance in our prayers being heard by God. The Psalmist states this principle succinctly; “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord” (Psalm 37:4-5). Through attentive prayer, we can know we know God and know that God knows and accepts us. That is the assurance of prayer.