THE ASSURANCE OF PRAYER
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
In this lesson text we find the assurance, that the prayers offered to Him by His obedient children, God will hear and accept if offered according to His will. This is true today. but it was also true before the coming of Christ. This is illustrated in many Old Testament scriptures, however the prophet, Jeremiah gave this inspired message to the children of Israel: Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you (Jer. 29:12). He also told them to, Call unto me, and I will answer thee (Jer. 33:3). This was God's assurance of prayer to the children of Israel, that were faithful to His will.
Many men and women, both Christian and non-Christian, are doubtful, or may even totally disbelieve the power prayer. Many often doubt that there is a God that will hear, and answer their prayers. Why would anyone, who was knowledgeable about the word of God, have such disbelief when His inspired word tells us differently? James wrote that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). Jesus' teaching on the power of prayer in His "Sermon on the Mount," is not only true, but it is extremely difficult to misunderstand its meaning. Regarding prayer, He taught the multitudes: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened (Matt. 7:7-8). To His disciples Jesus said: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matt. 21:22). All that read and believe the word of God must find consolation in the power, and the assurance of prayer.
However, the lesson text also teaches us that not all prayers will be heard. We can have confidence and comfort that God will hear our prayers, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. We can affirm that only prayers seeking things that agree with the will of God, will be heard and answered. In this same epistle John tells us that we will receive the things we ask for only if we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22). The writer of Proverbs tells us that God only hears the prayers of the righteous, but not of those that are wicked (Prov. 15:29). In his gospel message, the apostle John assures us that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth (John 9:31). James, in his epistle to Christians, both then and now, tells us that the motive for our prayers must be altogether righteous in the sight of God. He told the erring Christians that ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).
To have the assurance that God will hear us, whatsoever we ask, we must know with certainty that we are His faithful, obedient children. And this assurance we can know only if we love God and keep His commandments. This confidence takes knowledge of His word, and the wisdom to make the necessary applications to our lives. Such wisdom cannot be found in the world; it takes Godly wisdom that is only found in believing prayer. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:5-6). With full knowledge of God's word, and with the wisdom He has promised to those the faithfully seek it, every Christian can, in prayer, come boldly to the throne of God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, ...with confidence by the faith of Him (Eph. 3:11-12), that our Heavenly Father will hear the petitions of His children.
This, then, is our assurance. God will hear the prayers of His faithful children. This is not to say that God will grant every thing we ask of Him immediately, or even in future times, but God will not disregard our prayerful petitions. The righteous apostle Paul besought the Lord thrice that his thorn in the flesh ...might depart from me. But God's answer to his prayer was: My grace is sufficient for thee (See 2 Cor. 12:7-9). God hears all earnest prayers and grants those things that He deems good for His children. Our petitions will not go unanswered, even if the answer is "not now", or "no!" There are times when God tries the earnestness of our faith. He tells us to be persistent in prayer (See the parables of the "Friend at Midnight," Luke 11:5-13, and the "Importunate Widow," Luke 18:1-8). God has promised to supply all our needs, and He grants them when they are needful in His sight. This is the assurance of prayer He gives us!