Lord, thank You for the privilege of prayer.
Read 1 JOHN 5:13–21
13 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. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 37:4).
John ends this theologically rich letter with an assortment of closing comments. Some are rather enigmatic, such as his discussion of the sin that leads to death. There is also a final encouragement about being in Jesus Christ and receiving eternal life and a rather abrupt ending exhorting his readers to keep themselves from idols. Before all of these, however, is a beautiful promise about receiving what we pray for from God.
Verses 14 and 15 are perhaps among the most abused verses in the Bible. People have used them to claim that they can confidently receive anything they ask from God. This actually misses John’s point – he clearly claims “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us … we know that we have what we asked of Him”. Emphasized here is God’s will, not our will. It’s important that we refrain from demanding or insisting but rather asking God what He wants and then praying accordingly. By aligning our prayers with God’s desires, we are confident that He hears us and that He will give us a certain answer (cf. 1 John 3:21,22).
The painful part of this process is actually relinquishing our own desires and being genuinely open to the idea that His will may conflict with ours. It’s OK to express honestly our heart’s desires to God, but we must remember that He sees a much bigger picture than we ever could; therefore, He alone knows what is truly best. As we mature in the faith, our hearts become increasingly transformed, so that our desires naturally align with His, thereby rendering our prayers more powerful and effective.
If you are wrestling with God, open your hands in prayer, in a physical act of letting go, and align yourself with God: “Not my will but yours be done” (cf. Luke 22:39).
Lord, thank You for the promise of eternal life as a possession now in this life so that we do not wander around in doubt as to our destination.