– Understanding the Prayer of Faith –

This is part '2/5' to a study entitled 'Three Keys to Effective Prayer' on 1 John 2:5:14-15.
This article exposes three hindrances to effective prayer.

The Qualification for Prayer

1 John 5:13-14

Let’s look at 1 John 5:13 and see what it says about prayer.

Is this what God is saying? Or is it just something we want said? We need to pay special attention to any qualifications of this prayer. Without carefully observing them, our prayers are not heard. But before we can do this, we need to first look at the qualifications for prayer. This is what we find in verse 13 and assumed in verses 14-15.

And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)

Qualification for PrayerVerse 14 begins with one key word–the word ‘and.’ More than often the word 'and' doesn’t have much meaning or significance. This verse is different. Those things that John has mentioned are dependent upon this one word. The postscripts, including this first one, depend upon the qualification of prayer mentioned in 1 John 5:13. John wants us to link verse 13 with verse 14 by seeing the word ‘and.’

We can understand why. Many people think they are doing great things through their prayers. The problem is that they are not Christians. Some think they are but according to the above three major points they are not. Others who are Hindus, Buddhists and of other religions often say that they also pray. Even in today’s secular culture, you will find rather non-religious people saying they will pray for a person. It can be confusing but in the end we realize that prayer, spiritual communication, is something that all of us sense is important especially at significant times in our lives. Did you notice how a little calamity of 9/11 brought many people to pray? They think they can bring some goodness into the world by their prayers.

This is not what we see here in the first part of 1 John 5:14. Where does our confidence derive from? Our confidence comes from Him. The privilege of prayer that is heard by the Almighty God belongs to Christians alone. All prayer by man that is not in the name of Jesus Christ is vain. We might see a person praying for an hour for hurricane victims, but unless there is a connection to their position in Christ then they have not made one bit of difference. Perhaps things are even worse because they think they are doing well when they are not. This kind of religious spirituality leads to pride and delusion. John puts the word ‘and’ there because our confidence in prayer derives from our confession of the Son of God.

We also see that the root of blessing in prayer does not come from man but from Christ.  There is a confidence, a conviction, a belief that directs the true believer to pray. Our confidence is not in our clever prayers but in what God can and wants to do. Perhaps we should distinguish here a poor custom. Some people use the name of Jesus Christ and expect their prayers to be answered. They are right to use the name of Jesus, but the problem is that they have no confidence in Him. They are mechanically saying the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or some other prayer. But they have absolutely no thought of Jesus even though they may say His name. Our confidence comes from Him and not in mechanically using Jesus’ Name.

Prayer then is not a form of magic.

Prayer then is not a form of magic. We say the magic words, and somehow those words manipulates or transforms the universe. Prayer is not a magical incantation nor is the word ‘Jesus’ just one of those words used in a spell. Genuine prayer is simply talking to the Lord about different things. Our confidence is in the person that we ask and our relationship with him.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1, 2, NASB).

I know of a friend applying for a job. He put in an application. But he did something else. He knows of a good friend there in that company. He was talking to His friend about the job and was wondering if his friend can’t somehow talk to those in the hiring department and ask them to favor his application. My friend doesn’t have any connection with the personnel department or the managers. But he does know someone who does. So he asks that person who does have access to the managers to speak to them about his application. Not anyone can pray. Only those who come through Jesus Christ can speak to God. We pray in Jesus’ Name. There is no magic but only proper etiquette. Of course, if we do not know Jesus Christ, then we have no access to God the Father.

Hindrances to PrayerWhy does the great Creator of the universe open Himself to our requests? It is a wonder. Jesus tells us that the father is wanting to reward and bless his children. “If he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?” (Mt 7:10). The Lord loves His children and wants to bless them. God sees us believers in Christ. So the blessing that He would give Christ is the same that He would give to us–anything.

Prayer then comes from being forgiven by Jesus Christ and being identified with Him. This gives us access to heaven’s throne. Salvation also means that we become the children of God with whom God Almighty wants to share the blessings of this world with. Prayer is a privilege of Christians alone. Let us not debate with others about what true prayer is. There are more important tasks at hand, praying being one of them. But thoroughly enjoy your prayer times. They are crucial times. We are addressing God Himself.

Here are two other hindrances to effective prayer.

We also know that even if a person is a Christian, that if he hides sin in his heart that the Lord does not hear his prayers.

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

We also know that James cautions us of asking Him things for the wrong purposes.

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Much more can be said about hindrances to prayer but John wants us to approach this topic positively. He mentions three keys to having an effective prayer life. Let's now look at this first key.

Next=> 1. Ask for Anything (1 John 5:14)

Three Keys to Effective Prayer (1 John 5:14-15)

Introduction to 1 John 5:14-15
Qualifications for Prayer
1. Ask for Anything (1 John 5:14)
2. Seek according to God's Will (1 John 5:14)
3. Knock Until He Hears (1 John 5:15) 
Study Questions on 1 John 5:14-15
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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Rev. Paul J. Bucknell