The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
In I John 3:1-3 we read, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
John says that if we have assurance of our own salvation, we can come to God in prayer – with the same level of assurance – and petition God and then see those prayers answered. We can come without fear or intimidation and speak before the Creator of the universe and ask Him to use His omnipotence to answer our prayers.
Now, there are implications assumed here. God promises to answer our prayer requests and do what we ask if we are doing “what pleases him” (Ps 37:4; John 15:7), but the assumption is always this: if we are delighting in God, our prayers will not be self-motivated. They won’t be self-driven or for our own glory. Our prayerful petitions will be saturated for praying for the things God wants.
Thus, God will most certainly answer those prayers, won’t He? The man delighting in God, walking with Him, loving like Him, will have the assurance to petition God and will enjoy seeing His prayers answered! Now, I don’t know about you, but I can get behind that promise!
You want to have your prayers answered? How would you like to go through life or continue to go through life seeing your prayers answered often? John tells us of one way that can happen, but there are other issues that block our prayers being answered. Obedience may be an over-arching theme here of getting your prayers answered, but the Bible is more specific elsewhere. In his commentary on I John, John Stott gives a list of conditions to be met to have prayers answered. I have adapted his list a bit and added a few and I want to share them with you.
- If you want your prayers answered, offer them in Jesus’ name – “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). This is not a magic formula we add to the end of a prayer to guarantee an answer; that is an unbiblical concept. To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray for the things He would pray for and on His authority. Because we’ve been given access to the Father as a result of the cross, we come boldly before His throne (Heb 4:14-16). To pray in Jesus’ name is not about words but about motives.
- If you want your prayers answered, make sure God will be glorified by what you are asking – “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (Jas 4:2-3). Praying that God would give you that brand new car isn’t as certain that it would glorify God; praying that God would give you a faithful witness at work most certainly glorifies God.
- If you want your prayers answered, do not cherish sin in your heart – “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps 66:18). God will not hear the prayer of one living in sin; it will be as if our prayers are meaningless. This is one of the reasons Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that we are not to approach His altar if we have a sin between us and our brother. We are never to enter any context of prayer or worship with sin.
- If you want your prayers answered, be forgiving – “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Going along with the previous point, don’t harbor a grudge or bitterness against another. If Christ has forgiven you and will hear your prayers, don’t assume you can hold back forgiveness on another and be heard.
- If you want your prayers answered, have faith that God can do it – “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt 21:22). Shame on us if we come to God thinking, “I wonder if God is able to do what I am about to ask Him.” This is the omnipotent, Creator of the universe who tells lightning bolts where to go and whales how to sing and birds how to fly.
- If you want your prayers answered, do not refuse to help the helpless – “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (Prov 21:13). Solomon tells us if we refuse to help those in need when they cry out to us, God will refuse to help us in our needs when we cry out to him.
John wants us to have the assurance of having our prayers answered, and he knows that if we are walking faithfully before Him, all doubts will cease.
 The Letters of John, pg. 149