– Understanding the Prayer of Faith –

This is part '1/5' to a study entitled 'Three Keys to Effective Prayer' on 1 John 5:14-15. This page includes both an introduction to the mini-series on prayer as well as an introduction to 1 John 5:14-15.

Three Keys to Effective Prayer, An Introduction

1 John 5:14-15

People like great deals. Some people like good deals so much that they go around hunting for them. How would you like to win a gift certificate good at any store? Well, you wonder how much? What’s the catch?

Gift CertificateThe gift is for $3000. The only condition is that you only can spend up to $1,000 a month for three months. Wouldn’t this be wonderful? But in the end because you were busy, forgot, or whatever reason, you ended up spending only $100 on the first month, $189 the second month and nothing on the third month. You could have gotten $3,000 worth of gifts but in the end you only received only $289 worth. That is only 9.63%.  With your friends you can boast that you got this and this free. But you don’t tell them that you could have got much more but you never got around to using it. But the fact is that many of our Christian lives can be described just in this way.

We will see how this is so in just a minute, but let us first review the book of 1 John and introduce the context of the passage that we will be looking at.

Summary of 1 John & Our Lives

Tests help people evaluate where they are at regarding a special area of their life. Students face tests all the time. Christians do too. Our answers, however, are not recorded on a piece of paper but recorded by our life decisions. When we choose according to God's way, we confirm that we are on the right track.

1 John: Three Tests of a ChristianJohn was largely writing this letter to assure the professing Christians upon what basis they can be sure about their life with the Lord. They had heard many things that shook them up. Cultish thoughts were circulating around town saying different things about Jesus. These Christians did not have the New Testament. They would only be able to hear what was preached on the Lord’s Day. So John helped clarify three tests to discern where people were at in their relationship with God. He presented three tests: A heart test, a doctrinal test and a relational test.

• The heart test asks if we really love God. We can see the answer in whether we love to obey Him or not.

• The doctrinal test has to do with whether we really understand the deity and humanness of Jesus Christ.

• The relational test enables us to see whether we are a true Christian by our genuine love for others.

John wanted the true Christians to know that they had nothing to fear but everything to hope for.


IM & Postscripts

(Important Messages not Instant Messages)

You have heard of IMs. But this is not instant messages sent over the computer but important messages that need tobe mentioned. We have already come to the end of 1 John. John is finishing up this short letter but has a few last things to write. These last things are the postscript (ps.) at the end of his letter.

A postscript is the last moment’s important thoughts
that need to be included in a letter
even though it might not directly relate to the main purpose of the letter.

IMs (instant messages) with their constant dialogue do not need such last minute addendums. They just send another message. Back then, howver, communication by letter was expensive and slow. These last minute thoughts increase in importance when one might not be able to say anything more to them for months, especially when you greatly care for this certain group of Christians.

Postscripts of 1 JohnPostscripts of 1 John

Many postscripts were added to the New Testament letters. You might want to study them sometime. They are full of short pithy instructions, affectionate words and warnings. They are the last minute issues that you want to say more about but can’t. But if you do not say anything about them, then you are simply not being responsible.

Just by glancing at the very end of 1 John, you can see John’s last minute yet urgent thoughts. John brought up four last minute but essential topics: Faith and prayer (1 John 5:14-15); sins leading to death (1 John 5:16-17); evil and professing Christians (1 John 5:18-20); and lastly idols in Christian lives (1 John 5:21).

 Let’s read 1 John 5:13-15. Although we will focus on verses 14-15, we want to include verse 13 as context. Verse 13 concludes the main part of 1 John. Verses 14-15 are the first of four postscripts that John writes.

13  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
 14 And this is the confidence which we have before 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 the requests which we have asked from Him.

The Amazing Gift of Prayer

This first postscript is about the power of prayer. There are many questions that arise in Christian lives about the effectiveness of prayer. John didn’t say a lot but he was particularly addressing the way to make your prayers effective.

Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Jesus has opened up the riches of heaven so that we can ask anything in His Name and receive it. The only problem is that we have not spent what we could. And so what we could have done remains left undone.

God's gift certificate: prayer!It is like the card we mentioned before but we are notified of it in the Word of God. Instantly you are given an account with an unlimited credit.  The key about this card is that it is only good for what you spend. If you don’t spend it, then you don’t receive it.  It is only yours when you spend it. You are wondering, then, but how much can you spend? The answer is that you can spend as much as you want.

When we hear this answer it seems to push an ‘Impossible’ button in our minds. Although the Lord says that you can spend whatever amount you want, the evil one comes by and whispers ‘That doesn’t make sense!” Most of the time we just accept the evil ones suggestion. The fact, however, is that every genuine Christian has an open-ended account.

John has a lot more to say than to help God’s people assure that they are His. He wanted them to know of the great riches God has for them. Paul the apostle states that Christians are seated on the right hand of God in Christ. What does it mean practically? It means that we have life eternal. Isn’t this what 1 John 5:13 says? It is not something future but something present. This instantly grants you, whether you have been a Christian 30 years or just 1 week, an instant ledger account in heaven with an open allowance.

Have you ever seen (how could you not) the tiny print that accompanies most products. Software seems to be the worse. I suppose it is because they don’t have to print it all out!  Some seem five pages long! Have you really read such silly tiny print? John, however, lays something that is vital to our lives right in front of us with only a few words. This is not a new teaching. Jesus told John himself this very thing many times. But in case you think it was only for Jesus’ apostles-in-training, John again says what Jesus has said before and written in the Gospel of John.

Let’s now look at this passage and see what it says about prayer. We need to be sure this is what God is saying and not just what we want it to say. We also 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 one qualification for prayer. This is what we find in verse 13 and assumed in verses 14-15.

Next=> The Qualifications for Prayer (1 John 5:13)

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