The Key to Effective Prayer
1 John 5:14-21
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him. [1 John 5:14-15]
Notice the confidence in these verses! It centers around the word “know.” “If we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” We can have great confidence that God hears and answers prayer! The key is that those prayers [specifically petitions] are of the will of God.
I emphasize the word “petitions” because petitions are one aspect of prayer, and it is oftentimes the one we gravitate toward. Petitions are prayers that ask God for something. For example, if you are ill and ask God for healing, that is a petition. If you are without work and ask God for work, that too is a petition. Anytime we ask God for something, it is a prayer of petition. God loves to hear prayers of petitions from His children. But notice that He hears and answers petitions “according to His will.” So, the next time you pray for a Rolls Royce and you still find yourself taking a bus to work, then maybe you weren’t praying according to God’s will.
But all kidding aside, perhaps the real lesson is to begin our prayers with praising and exalting God. This gets us into the right frame of mind [and heart] to know God so that our desires [and petitions] are in-line with His. This is in fact the order that Jesus gave in The Lord’s Prayer [ref. Matt 6:9- 13; Luke 11:2-4]. It begins with praise: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” The petition then follows: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
This last section of 1 John reveals a wonderful promise. If we pray “according to His will,” we can know that He both hears us and will answer our prayers! It begins, however, with prayers of praise. It is in praising and exalting of our Lord that we come into that right frame of mind [and heart] to know His will. And it is in that knowing that our prayers become powerful!