“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 5:14,15).
That God answers prayer is seldom challenged—at least by those who believe the Bible. But the manner by which God answers never falls into neat categories or boxes. I’m thinking of the story which circulated on the internet about a poor woman who was desperately in need of food. Her neighbor, an affirmed atheist, knowing of her prayers decided that it would be great sport to buy a basket of food, put it on her porch, then ring the doorbell and hide. And this he did. But as soon as the poor woman saw the food, she began praising and thanking God for it.
Not willing to harbor such competition, he quickly walked up and said, “You crazy woman, it was not God who sent the food. I was the one who brought the food and put it at your door. Now, what do you say about that?”
Somewhat nonplussed, the woman retorted, “Well, I knew God was going to provide for me, but I never thought He would make the devil pay for it.”
Long ago John wrote, “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 5:14,15).
In this great promise which John gives, he links confidence in asking with a knowledge of the will of God. In other words, he is saying that when you ask God for something which He has already told you is His will, you can ask or pray with confidence. Like what? More than 3,000 of God’s promises—so someone counted—are found in the New Testament alone. Praying with confidence is not something reserved alone for the spiritual heavyweights, like hitting the long ball in golf or making the three point shots in basketball. Praying with simple confidence is the prerogative of every child who knows what his Father wants and asks that He might carry it out.
When you pray for your daily needs, you can pray with confidence for God has already promised to meet them.
When you pray for your son or daughter, your husband or wife, your friend or neighbor to come to Jesus Christ, you can pray with confidence, for God has already told us that this is His will.
When you pray that God’s grace will be sufficient to touch your life at the point of your greatest need, you can pray with confidence, for God promised that His grace would be sufficient.
When you pray that God will give you strength to resist temptation, you can pray with confidence, for God has promised that you will never face temptation so great that you cannot bear up under it.
Prayer is not a matter of wishful thinking or hoping. It is asking and receiving. It’s based upon the relationship of a child with the Father. It is because of your spiritual position in Jesus Christ that you can ask with confidence, expecting God to do what only He can accomplish.
Most of the time we figure out ahead of time what we want God to do, and then give Him clear instruction as to how He is to solve things—usually our way. Whether God chooses to use the neighbor next door who puts a basket of groceries on your door or send a basket straight from heaven delivered by an angelic being is His business. Yours is to ask with confidence, His is to provide according to His plan and purpose.
Make sure you keep the two clearly separate. God will handle the answer His way, in His time, and according to His purpose.
Resource reading: 2 Corinthians 8-9