By James Metsger
And this is the confidence that we have toward 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 that we have asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
“If God were to answer all your prayers, would you even know it?” When my friend Cliff asked a room full of church goers that question, I felt conviction. I tend to pray safe prayers or broad prayers. “Bless this or that” or “Watch over him or her.” My prayer life can be so clouded with generalities that I’m not always sure when, or if, God specifically answers. Or, worse, sometimes I’m just not sure what to ask for, so I don’t ask for anything.
Think about what John is saying in these verses. If we ask anything according to God’s will, he hears us. Sometimes using the phrase “according to His will” gets a bad rap. Some people think we’re giving God an out. We know what we really want, but we’re afraid God will say “No” and we don’t want to explain to our friends why God didn’t answer in the affirmative. So, just to be safe, we tag “if it’s your will” to the beginning or end of our prayer so God doesn’t feel any unnecessary pressure.
God doesn’t need us to cover for him. He can handle it.
Praying according to the will of God isn’t showing a lack of faith. It’s showing that God is sovereign and we’re not. It’s believing God knows what’s best and will do what’s best. We humbly admit our proper place as the created and not the Creator. Jesus himself prayed this way in the Garden: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42-43)
What is beautiful about humbly asking God to work according to His will is that He will actually do it. God answered Jesus’ garden request, “My Son, you will need to drink from this cup. It is my will that you taste death.” And so he did.
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
So, go ahead, pray big, audacious prayers. Ask God for what’s on your heart. Ask God for his will to be done. And ask God for the desire to see his will done, no matter the answer. Then watch him do it
Reflect: What are you praying about right now?