– Understanding the Prayer of Faith –

This is part '3/5' 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 and discussion on 1 John 5:14

#2 Seek according to God's Will
1 John 5:14

"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 2:14).

We are not only to ask, but also to seek. That is, we are to seek His will to be realized.

There is no doubt a few skeptics are in the crowd. “What do you mean that God will answer any request?” They might continue to say, “I have heard of requests that God has not answered.”

seekWe do admit that Jesus has made the door wide open for such critics. I would like to answer this. But I encourage you to be a learner. Try to learn what Jesus and John are saying here. It is important. Because of misunderstandings and a little pride, we have put ourselves on the wrong side of the fence. After all, if you can ask anything from God, then it is something you want to do. If however, because of misunderstandings, which Satan will always assist you in, you say it is not true. Then just let your treasures rot. This is what will happen. For if you do not ask, you definitely will not receive.

We have already mentioned why some people’s prayers are not answered: they do not know the Lord; they have hidden sin or they ask with wrong motives. In a sense this phrase, the second key to effective prayer, “according to His will” has to do with all these things. Negatively, it shows that we only are seeking our own profit. This sounds a whole like the world operates. You don’t need God for that. What does it mean positively, though? This is like opening a door into heaven.

Seeking God’s Will

The desire to buy a big house.

Did you ever ask why you need such a big house for a few people that you will use so little of time? Many people are so busy today that they only need a place to sleep! And even that with all of the out-of-town trips, it seems they rarely even see their own bed.

Some people respond that they want to have people over. They want to be hospitable. So they work hard at buying a new house. They might even have to cut their offerings to the church down to 5% to handle the Buying a big housemortgage. In this case, they would go far below the expected giving that the scriptures suggest from the Old Testament tithe. If you desire such a house, is it not true that you want it chiefly for your own desires?

What if you ask the Lord, please give me my dream house? Will the Lord give it to you? Will He hear you? You cannot be sure that this house is best for you. You are unsure. This lack of confidence results from the lack of confidence that it is God’s will or not.

We can easily change this around. If after searching our hearts and what God wants, we discern that we really want to serve the Lord through a big house, then we need to change our prayers. It is too easy to deceive ourselves. If our real motive for a big house is to be hospitable, than instead of asking for a big house, you should ask God to help you be hospitable. We know this is His will.

In this case, instead of waiting for some way off day where you will serve others, you can start serving Him right now. You don’t need a special house to be hospitable. It might be nice and it is not wrong. But we need to focus not on things but the spirit of service behind it. As you start asking Him for opportunities to be hospitable, you will find them. God will answer your prayers. You will be looking around asking the Lord, “Who can I go out of my way to care for?” If a person doesn’t practice hospitality before having a big house, then he will in no way practice it later. It is an approach to life.

Instead of suffocating on the quest for things, focus on the burdens of your heart especially where they affect others. What needs are there out there? If you want foreign students to feel loved far away from home, then you will pray for them and ask God for opportunity. Will God answer your prayer? Sure He will. We can be sure that God hears our prayers when it is according to His will.

• The desire to excel

Desire to excelPerhaps we want to excel in our field so that we can have a great testimony. I have heard quite a few fellow Christians share this vision. They have been challenged by some like Daniel who have well-used their positions. Should we then ask that God to give us those great reports, speeches and research insights? I am not so sure that these results are the most important thing for your life. 

The problem is that if we think these things are the most important, then we will make compromises. We will squeeze every moment out often missing cell group, sleep during church, and saying no to being part of the serving team. Your silent goal to be great for the Lord is missed. These things should reveal to you that you are not really seeking God’s will but your own.

What do we know? We do know that if He has put the burden of evangelism on your heart, then this is God’s will. So instead of praying for being smart and clever so you can have that esteemed position,  start asking the Lord for opportunities to evangelize where you are. You can be sure God will open up doors. If you don’t do it now, then you never do it higher up. When we look at Daniel’s life, we see the same uncompromised lifestyle when he was just beginning as at the end of his life. If the Lord prospers you like Daniel, then you will know exactly why He did it–to do His will. If you only ask for promotion, then it might because of selfish reasons. This only brings danger into your life.

 The Process of Seeking God’s Will

Are you getting to understand what it means to pray according to His will? This is the process.

·       You start with a concern for others. The Christian word for this is ‘burden.’ It might be a Christian or non-Christians that you are concerned with. That is fine.

·       Understand your desire to help them. The desire and the burden are closely related to each other. At times it seems the same. Burden is more of a feeling. Desire that I refer to has to do with the deliberate decision to participate in helping meet this need. If the burden speaks of what I feel is important, the desire here focuses on making something I personally want to change.

·       Prayer to help follows this. You want to ask specifically.

·       Lastly, you are to look for the answer. You might find that God wants to include you in the process. Don’t be afraid. The reason He gave you this burden is quite likely to get you involved. In fact, we should be comforted by the fact that He has given us a certain burden. It is in these cases, He gives you more grace to help. Whether you are a busy housewife, a struggling student, an overworked engineer, you want to see what God wants you to do. If He has put a need on your heart, He usually gives you the grace to be part of that answer.

When you ask something according to his will, then you know He hears you. How do you know? There is the promise from His Word and often there is a special inner confidence in your soul that comes telling you that this is important to the Lord and He will see to it. If there is a special need, then He will speak to you in other means such as through dreams, visions, people, etc. Often there is not need for this though.

The process of seeking God's will.This is what we call seeking His will. We need to seek what the Lord wants and pray it into being. When you see the great increase of immorality, the many horrible marriages, the loneliness of individuals, the lostness of souls, etc., how do you respond? Jesus saw the wasting harvest. What do you see? Start by noticing what God puts on your heart.

You might notice different scriptures that go along with that burden. God is sharing His burden with you. He wants you to feel that need so that you will become involved. Satan of course will distract you. But never mind him. Start praying that you would understand this need better. As you do, then you can start clarifying what the need is and ask God to solve the problem.

The problem will almost always look too big, too wide and too impossible. You will not have enough time and sometimes be too broke. That is fine. This is the way He does things so that He gets the glory. This is the reason we pray. We want God to work. God could do it without us, but He has made it so that He works through the prayers of His people. This of course becomes our exciting bonus of life. I look at it as an exciting journey. We just never know where it will end up. This is to repeatedly happen in your life as a Christian. It shouldn’t stop until the grave.

Do you seek for the will of God to be done? What is it that He wants to be done? Seek Him. Seek His will to be done. And your life will never be boring. God will choose to visit you in your little corner of the world and through you end up doing God’s great and mysterious work.

One of the side benefits of seeking His will, is that you will also meet God on a deeper level. When you have a heart like Him, He allows you to know Him in a deeper way. Spend time in prayer, meditation and the Word.  Our faith grows because we know what and how He does things.

Next=> 3. Knock Until He Hears (1 John 5:15)

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