Saturday, March 14, 2020 -
“And this is the confidence in which we have before 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 which we have asked from Him” (I John 5:14-15). “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” (Mark 11:24).
I have struggled with this question my whole life: How can we pray in faith, believing, when in I John 14 we find the condition of “according to His will?” I’ve so often heard all of my life people praying very weak prayers. They use the excuse for their lack of faith being that it may not be God’s will. It almost seems as though they are providing God, or perhaps themselves, with the reason for asking it not be granted. In other words, the question is how can one pray in faith and still pray “if it be Your will?”
Andrew Murray’s book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, has helped me to understand this, and I have gone on to dig into this subject matter deeper. He stated, “The whatsoever (whatever) is unconditional except for what is implied in the believing. Before we can believe, we must find out and know what God’s will is. Believing is the exercise of a soul surrendered to the influence of the Word and the Spirit. Once we believe, nothing is impossible…through prayer, we hold up our desires to the light of God’s Holy Will, our motives are tested, and the proof is only for the glory of God. The leading of the Spirit shows us whether we are asking for the right thing and in the right spirit.”
This makes a lot of sense, and so I delved into what John meant in the opening Scripture saying, “according to His will.” For only when we ask according to His will, will He hear us, or grants it. “According to” means “in conformity with.” And the Greek word for “will,” thelēma, is not to be conceived as a demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure toward that which is liked, that pleases and creates joy. When denoting God’s will, it signifies His gracious disposition towards something. Used to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure.
In other words then, if we ask anything in conformity to His own good pleasure, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests we asked from Him.
But can we really know God’s will? The answer is an emphatic yes! Ephesians 1:9 states, “He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” The previous verse says, “He lavished upon us all wisdom and insight.” In Ephesians 5:17, Paul takes this a step further, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” So we can know the will of God! Paul also told the Colossians in his letter to them that they (Paul and Timothy) have not ceased to pray for them, “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9). Romans 2:17-18 tells us that we rely on the law to know His will. So the Scripture is our roadmap, along with the guidance of His Holy Spirit within us. This means we must be walking in His Word and be guided by the Holy Spirit. This is the key to having boldness and confidence in our prayers! God’s Word is the revelation of His will. It is full of His promises to those who love God, are righteous and blameless in High sight. When our hearts are right, we can claim His promises in faith. Christ left us God’s Holy Spirit very much for this purpose, to communicate this wisdom to us, through His Word. We can know the will of God through His Word and in His spirit and pray according to it in faith and confidence, believing He will hear and do.
But our lives must be yielded to it fully. James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” So therefore I John 5:14-15 is not inconsistent with such passages as “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23) and “if you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20). All things which we pray and ask we can believe we have received. But prior to believing, it is essential we discover God’s will, and that only happens with a heart surrendered to God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.