Post Series on 1 John 5:13-17:
- How Confident are You That You Have Eternal Life? (1 John 5:13)
- Confidence in Our Eternal Life Results in Prayer (1 John 5:14-15)
- Praying for the Prodigal Brother (1 John 5:16-17)
After assuring his readers that he has written his letter to confirm that they have eternal life if they believe in the name of the Son of God, John begins to unfold what the confidence looks like:
 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  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. (1 John 5:14-15)
John wants us to see that the practical result of our confidence will be prayer. If we genuinely believe that we have life in the Son of God, then we will claim, utilize, and depend upon that life through our prayer.
A common misconception is to think of prayer as asking for a list of things–finding a new job, healing from a sickness, discerning God’s will for our lives, etc. It is not wrong to ask for any of those things, but prayer is so much more than that.
When we pray, we join God in the work of his kingdom building on this earth, upon the foundation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our prayers enter into true worship; they request forgiveness; they bring us into close communion with God; and they plead for God’s kingdom to come to earth, as in heaven. We can pray in boldness, joy, and purpose, knowing that God has made us alive to such a privileged life of prayer. No longer are we slaves who merely do God’s bidding, but friends with whom God somehow confers in his eternal decrees. What a glorious mystery!
Our confidence, then, does not carry us into all kinds of abuses of prayer, asking for only that which will selfishly benefit ourselves, in spite of what it might do to others. John explains that our confidence is in the fact that “if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
The question, then, is how we go about determining God’s will. We should not be paralyzed as we wait to discern God’s will before we come to him in prayer, for prayer is the place where God teaches us his will. John Stott helpfully explains:
Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or bending His will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to His. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme ‘Thy will be done’. (The Epistles of John, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964], 185.)
Our confidence is that God will actually transform our hearts through prayer, and that he will hear us throughout the entire process.
Finally, then, we have confidence that God will unvaryingly grant us the requests that he hears us to ask. God is not playing a game with us–he genuinely wants us to pray for certain things in order that he might grant them to us. As he conforms our will to his, he isn’t trying to muscle us so that we will give in to whatever he wants, but he is rather teaching us about what is truly good.
So once we begin to pray for what is truly good–that which accords with his will–God graciously gives us what we ask for.
And if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or bending His will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to His. It is by prayer that we seek God’s will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme ‘Thy will be done’.