Scripture 1 John 5:14-17
14 And this is the boldness we have in 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 obtained the requests made of him. 16 If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal.
- Boldness comes from asking anything according to “his” (Jesus Christ in this context) he hears
- If we know he hears… then we know he answers
- What is “his will?” 2:17 also promises – “And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”
- Is the will of God expressed in the commandments in 5:1-5?
1 John includes this prescription for boldness in prayer. But it comes with conditions – if we ask according to Jesus Christ’s will, we know he hears us. And if we know he hears us, then we know that we’ve received what we asked. His will is the key to this whole thing. What does 1 John mean by it? In one sense it seems to be a paradox – if I know his will I can ask for it. But how do I know it? Do I just guess? Or do I judge by my prayers not being answered (hence not being “heard?). Questions about unanswered prayer are one of the things with which many of us struggle in our faith.
This chapter seems to suggest that his will is learned through love, through obeying his commands. The ending portion seems to support this as it talks about praying for another’s sin.
Too often my prayers are about me aren’t they? What if my prayers became another avenue – the primary avenue alongside Scripture – for learning love and obedience instead? To pray as we do in the Lord’s Prayer “thy will be done” and seek then to do and live it toward others?
Lord Jesus, what encouragement it is to know that you hear when I pray. And to know that what catches your attention is your will. Today may I love you and your commandments. May I grow in real love for my neighbor and for his well-being body, soul, and spirit. May my prayers be less and less about I and more and more about “you” and “they.” Amen.