WHAT CAN YOU KNOW?


"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that we have eternal life . . . And if WE KNOW that He hears us, whatever we ask, WE KNOW that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him . . . WE KNOW that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. WE KNOW that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And WE KNOW that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that WE MAY KNOW Him who is true . . . " (1 John 5:13-21, NKJV)

Devotion 16 of  32

ASKING ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL

" . . . if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us"  (1 John 5:14)

Other versions read, "this is the BOLDNESS which we have" (ASV), "we are CERTAIN" (BBE), and "our FEARLESSNESS towards Him" (NJB). This knowledge is the evidence and expression of confidence, not a kingdom law: "By that, I mean this is the result of spiritual life, not the means of appropriating it. It is what happens when we walk in the light, not merely what ought to happen. And this is the confidence WE HAVE IN HIM, if we ask . . . " It is not a confidence we OUGHT to have, or the confidence we can POSSIBLY own. It is the confidence that we possess "in Him." It is not self-confidence, but assurance that springs from the perception of both His character and His will.

Our familiarity with the Lord produces confidence before Him. Even though sin has created a vast chasm between God and man, yet those who know the Lord, or know they "have eternal life," come to Him in the boldness of faith. The fear of the Lord that they possess does not drive them from the Lord, as it did Adam, but compels them come to Him to "obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need" (Heb 4:16). Even though they are working out their "own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12), that "fear and trembling" has not kept them from their God, or caused them to hesitate to let their requests be made known to Him (Phil 4:6-7).

Asking something according to the will of God is not the result of acquiring information concerning that will. Such a thing is certainly possible, and is to be pursued. When the Spirit says "this is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thess 4:3), or "in every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess 5:18), it is certainly in order to pursue those matters in prayer. However, that is not the thrust of this particular text.

In this passage asking according to the will of God is the result of abiding in that will, doing it, and shaping our lives around it. It flows out from fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9), and walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). It assumes a preoccupation with the will of God, and a hearty submission to it. When we "walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5:25) and "live by faith" (Heb 10:38), a certain spiritual culturing is experienced. In and through the Holy Spirit, we are being changed into Christ's image, from one increasing stage of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). The result of that conformation impacts directly upon how we pray and what we pray for. Such a life puts us into the heart of God's will, and thus we are prone to pray in accordance with that will.

A promise of the magnitude of the one we are considering, cannot be based upon a mere intellectual or casual acquaintance with the text of Scripture. Promises this large do not accompany perfunctory lives and activities. I will go so far as to say those who are not themselves within the will of God cannot truly ask any thing according to His will. Such people are too self-centered, and too distracted by the circumstances that attend life in this world.

And how is it that a mortal can ask "anything according to His will?" A large part of it is knowing we have eternal life, which is the point of this text. Such knowledge brings with it an acquaintance with the Lord an understanding of His "ways" (Psa 103:7; Isa 2:3; Micah 4:2). Our familiarity with God, or lack thereof, shapes both the content and tone of our prayers. Our desires are also determined by the degree of our knowledge, or comprehension, of God's ways. Remember, God's will is within the perimeter of His ways. That will is the boundary within which effectual prayers are offered. God never steps outside of His own character in order to grant men what they desire.

Asking according to God's will is desiring something He is pleased to give. It is seeking for things He has determined we are to have in Christ Jesus. It is reflecting His revealed purpose in our prayer. It is no wonder we are taught to think within the framework of the will of God. "For that ye ought to say, IF THE LORD WILL, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:15; 2 Sam 15:25,26; Acts 18:21; Rom 1:10; 15:32; 1 Cor 4:19).

These days there are some who deride prayers that include the words "according to Your will," or if You will." To such sophists these are expressions of doubt that tend to negate prayer. However, in Scripture an appeal to the will of God is an expression of insight, not of doubt. Jesus, the Prince of prayer, said in His most critical hour, "nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Mat 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). If Jesus, in coming into this world, affirmed "I seek not mind own will" (John 5:30), and said "I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will" (John 6:38), who is the person who imagines their own will ought to be sought?

Make no mistake about this: our text affirms that prayers that are according to His will are guaranteed an answer IF we ask any thing that is "according to His will." If that condition is met, "He hears us" (NKJV). This hearing does not refer to God having knowledge that we have said something. For example, when Israel murmured, "the Lord HEARD it," and "His anger was kindled" (Num 11:1). Too, when Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because "he had married an Ethiopian woman," "the Lord HEARD it" (Num 12:1-2). They certainly did not receive their desires!

On the other hand, the Lord "HEARD" the cries of a believing poor man, and "saved him out of all his troubles" (Psa 34:6). The Lord, indeed, "HEARETH the poor, and despiseth not His prisoners" (Psa 69:33). In this sense, God "HEARS the prayer of the righteous" (Prov 15:29), because His ear is attentive to them (Psa 34:15; 1 Pet 3:12).

Hearing, in this instance, means focused hearing that God pays special attention to what is being said, with a mind to grant the request of the petitioner. It is understood that the prayer has pleased the Lord, and is in complete harmony with His revealed purpose.

Therefore, by saying "He heareth us," we are to understand such prayers are acknowledged by the Lord, being received as a proper supplication that can be righteously answered by Him. He listens considerately to such prayers, devoting His attention to them, and is committed to grant what has been sought for in them. Such prayers are not uttered in vain, praise the Lord.

PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, grant me grace to walk consciously in Your presence in order that my thoughts and prayers may be acceptable in Your sight.

-- Tomorrow: KNOWING HE HEARS US --