Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
1 John 1:1-4 New England Series
1 John 1:5-7 New England series
1 John 1:8-10 New England series
1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:3-6
1 John 2:7-11
1 John 2:12-17
1 John 2:18-27
1 John 3:1-9 1John 3: 10-23
1 John 3:24 to 4:6
1 John 4:7-16
1st John 4:17-21
1st John 5:4-13 1st John 5:14-15
  1 John 5:16-17   1 John 5:18-21  
To log onto UNITYINCHRIST.COM’S BLOG, Click Here
Unity in Christ
About the Author
Does God Exist?

The Book of Acts
the Prophets & Prophecy

Song of Solomon

OT History
Early Church History
Church History
Sabbatarian Heritage
The Worldwide Church Of God
Messianic Believers

America-Modern Romans

Latin-American Poverty

Ministry Principles

Topical Studies
Guest Book
Utility Pages
Share on Facebook
Tell a friend:

1st John 5:14-15


“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 


“We’re in 1st John chapter 5, verses 14-15.  “Now this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him.”  Last week, verse 13, John said “these things I have written” and you get the sense when he says “these things I have written” that he’s about to end his letter.  Maybe he even initially intended to end his letter there at verse 13.  That verse is a good way to kind of close the letter.  So it’s possible what we have now in these final verses is sort of a PS, a postscript, just a few extra things he wanted to throw in there, some important points that he just includes.  Kind of like you when you write that letter, you throw that PS on.  I find that I do that, I’ll be writing and I’ll remember something and I’ll throw in a PS, and I’ll say “Did you hear?  Oh yeah, one more thing”, important piece of information for you.  This is potentially what it’s like.  Now this is the apostle John, he’s an old man, he’s at the end of his life.  So it’s very possible that what we read here is also the last words of his life.  But they are great words from great men, and you know, the apostle John, if these are his final words, in all the things he’s learned in life, these are indeed great words.  There’s some wonderful things in here.  But what’s true with John too, just his writing style, he says some things in here that are hard to understand.  It’s probably more than anything his writing style, he takes a truth sometimes in a way that, you know, you might be thinking ‘I wish Paul had written that and we’d have a little bit more insight.  What is he saying with that?’  There’s a couple brain-teasers in this text as we get to the end, too.  Well anyway, what is it he wants to emphasize, what’s so important?  You see there in these verses, he wants to stress and exhort his audience once more in the importance of prayer.  Right there it’s clearly seen.  This is something that’s dear to his heart.  Of course, any great saint, any great man, any great woman in Christ, prayer is important, it’s dear to their hearts, it’s dear to his heart.  Great Christians are always great people of prayer.  I think of what Charles Spurgeon once said, “I would rather be the Master of the Art of Prayer than the Master of Arts of both Oxford and Cambridge.  He who knows how to pray has his hand on the leverage that moves that universe.”  So he says that’s something that I want to have a Master in, the art of prayer.  George Mueller, this tremendous man of faith and prayer also said about prayer, “Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble, but prayer is a life-attitude.”  It is a life-attitude he says.  [see]  And I think the apostle John would agree with that, that prayer is very powerful, as you’ll see in these verses.  And it’s also something that should be our life-attitude.  So, we’ve got a few points here on effective prayer that just before he puts this letter in the envelope, or if he’s got a parchment that he’s got to roll up and seal it, just before he does that he scribbles it out, these things. 


Effective prayer


          Now, as you see here, just looking at the words, confidence, “asking”, “him hearing”, “we getting what we ask for”, clearly this is Scripture on effective prayer, there’s no doubt about it---praying and receiving the things that we ask for, that’s effective.  I like that kind of prayer.  And that’s what he highlights, he says that when you pray in such and such a way, you will have the very things that you ask for.  And of course, when I come to God and you come to God, that is the desire, we say “here is my petition, and these are the things I lay before you, and I hope for, I desire for you to respond, I desire for you to do these things.”  And he says ‘If these are true and the way that you pray, when you pray, you will receive the things that you ask for.’  Now that seems very important.  That seems very powerful.  And that’s something that I want all the more in my life.  I want to know that when I petition God, that the things I’m asking for, if I’m doing it in the right heart and way will be things that come.  I want my prayer-life to be effective.  And that’s what he’s saying.  This is a cure to those of us who might say ‘You know, I don’t think God hears my prayers.’  Some of us think that.  This is a cure to that, or remedy to maybe those of us who say ‘Why pray for it if it doesn’t work?’  And that exists even in the Church, there’s some of us in that place where we say ‘Well, let me see if I can work it out on my own, let’s see if we can come up with a practical solution here, because why pray, you know?  Why pray?  Because it really doesn’t seem to work.  This kind of a mystical thing this church practices that doesn’t seem to do anything.’  This is a cure to that, because he says ‘If you pray in this way, when you ask, you will receive.’  That’s effective prayer.  That’s important, that’s for sure.  You know, when you meditate on these words, you fully consider these words, it’ll kindle a work of prayer in your life all the more, but also in a congregation.  I think of the church in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Tabernacle church.  That is a congregation that has realized ‘there is effective prayer, and we want to do it.’  [see]  Tuesday nights, going to that prayer-meeting there in Brooklyn, sanctuary of thousands, evidently, you need to get there early or you won’t find a seat.  That’s a prayer-meeting.  That’s a prayer-meeting.  That isn’t like listening to some great speaker, that’s a prayer-meeting that you can’t get a seat for if you don’t get there early.  And it’s a sanctuary of thousands.  Of course, that’s a congregation that knows what’s being said here by the apostle John, I mean Jim Cymbala, the different books that he’s written, you can just read them and see that this church believes in prayer, and they’ve seen God do the things that they’ve asked him to do.  They’ve seen God repeatedly respond to their petitions.  I think also Babayela when he was here with us, he goes to the Grace Fellowship in Nashua, and he told me that their church now, they’ve been praying for a long time to have a lot of prayer meetings.  But now at that church there’s a prayer-meeting on every day of the week, every morning and every night there are people that come and gather for prayer.  They’ve been doing it for awhile, they’ve been praying especially for revival.  There’s a church that evidently believes that when you pray in the right manner, God works, God responds.  There is such a thing as effective prayer.  Now, with that, what are the points that John makes?  What are these things that he says about effective prayer? 


Confidence, boldness


The first point I see, and some of the Greek helps us a little bit here, and I looked at some studies on the Greek, is this element of confidence, but I would say boldness.  You see there in the first bit there “Now this is the confidence”.  That word rendered in most translations “confidence”, the Greek word is Parasia, which literally refers to speaking out of all of what one thinks.  It’s sort of like free like free speech.  There’s just the sense that I can speak freely, I can speak all that’s on my heart, there’s a frankness in that word, there’s a boldness, an openness of speech that is expressed in prayer.  So he says “Now this is the confidence”.  Well what is this boldness and confidence about?  Is it a confidence in prayer per se?  Certainly you can look in our society and many different religions and new age mystical type things and see that there’s an emphasis on prayer, and all that can happen in prayer, all that prayer will do.  Is it a confidence in prayer?  No, you see here, it’s not so much a confidence in prayer, it’s a confidence in a person, it’s a person, it’s the person of Jesus Christ.  It’s a boldness and confidence in him.  And it’s because of that, you see there in the wording, there’s a sense that when I come to him in a certain way, because of who he is, and the disposition that he has towards me, the heart that he has towards me, I can know that when I pray certain things are going to happen.  So there’s that frankness, that boldness.  You know, I think of my kids.  So often in a day my kids are coming up, or they’re doing it to their mom, they’re going ‘Daddy, Daddy, can I, can I?’, or ‘Daddy, Daddy, can we?’  That goes on all day long, drive you batty, young children, on and on and on, it goes on and on and on.  I’ve learned a bit about that parable of the persistent widow, I’ve learned that from my kids, they just wear you down sometimes, ‘All right!  All right!  You got it.’  I’ve said no a thousand times, a thousand and first, you got a yes, it worked.  You know, they can be persistent, those little buggers.  But you know, all day long, just asking for this, asking for that.  But it’s interesting, sometimes I can tell when my children come to me, that there’s a confidence that they know I’m going to say yes.  Sometimes it’s because I’ve made certain promises already, I’ve already said ‘You know Johnny, if you do this we’ll go and do this.’  And of course, they remember those kinds of promises very well, and there’s a confidence when they come to me, and the way they phrase it, the way they are, maybe there’s just a sense, ‘Dad’s been a softy all day, this is going, let’s go Susie, let’s go up there and hit Dad with a couple more good ones,’ now’s their time, you know.  There’s a sense that because of my disposition towards them that they know that when they ask I’m going to respond.  But there are other times, you can tell in their voice that they’re not sure.   They’re just not confident that I’m going to give them what they ask for.  You know, it’s amazing, my little daughter, she’s got a sweet tooth and she wants candy all the time.  She knows, and you can even tell, she’ll ask for it, candy, just before she goes to bed, she’ll want candy or gum, and what are we going to say?  We’ve said it a thousand times, ‘No, you can’t have candy, it’s bedtime.’  And she knows it, she can even, in the way she says it ‘I can ask, but I know he’s not gonna give it to me.’  You know what I mean?  [laughter]  And Johnny does the same thing, ‘Johnny, because of what you’ve done, you can’t play Playstation for a week.  OK, you know that, this is the penalty for what you’ve done.’  But he’ll come the next day, and he knows the answer, but he’ll ask anyway sometimes, ‘Dad, can I play Playstation?’  And he knows, ‘No, Johnny, come on, you know the answer to that.  It’s off limits this week.’  So there’s this picture here, he’s saying that like, we’re children of our heavenly Father, there’s a way in which we come to him, where there’s also this confidence that I know that I’m gonna lift this to him and he’s turned toward me in a certain way that he’s gonna say ‘Yup, sure, man, alright man, here it goes.’  Now there is of course the timing aspect.  You know, sometimes his timing is not our timing.  But there are times there’s a manner of prayer where I can know that God will say “Yes, those things I will assuredly do.”  Now this, as we’ve been reading the Scriptures, you know, in the back of the bulletin and going through the Bible, this was the heart of the sons of Korah declared in Psalm 84, verse 11, same type of thing.  “For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  He won’t withhold one good thing.  He’ll give, he’ll bless, he’ll respond.  It’s also what Jesus declares in Mark chapter 11, verse 23, “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things that he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe”, boldness, confidence, “that you receive them, and you will have them.”  So Jesus said the same thing.  James describes in his first chapter there in his Epistle, verse 6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting.”  So there’s a confidence, a boldness, ‘Yes, what I ask God, you’re going to do.’  That is so key to effective prayer.  If that doesn’t exist James goes on to say “For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”  So John here knows this confidence, it’s key in prayer, it’s a confidence not in prayer, but a confidence in Jesus Christ, that he has the resources, that he has the power, and his heart is toward me in such a way, that if I come to him in certain terms, that when I lift these things to him, he’s going to respond.  I think of also, you know, this confidence towards him, Psalm 118, where the psalmist says, verse 8, “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man, it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”  He says confidence in God, trusting in him.  That’s what John says here in this verse, a trust, a confidence.  Now, so  the question to you this morning, you’re here, you’re listening, does this confidence exist in your prayer-life?  Is there that boldness?  Is there that confidence?  And thus is prayer important to you?  Is it important to you?  Is it something that is vital to your life?


Quantity = Quality


You know, John Wesley used to say that any Christian worthy of the name should pray at least four hours a day, four hours a day.  In fact, evidently, he would evaluate you by that, if you knew him.  He’d be like, ‘Well, this guy’s just a whimp, prays two hours a day.’  But he used to believe, and I can understand what he’s saying, four hours a day.  I think of Bob Caldwell, went to India with him a couple months ago, and we have the Calvary Chapel magazine that has the article now, that magazine’s free, you can snag a copy, I think it will bless you.  But when I went with him, you know, pastor of this large church, and we went to a community where Chapel Missions India purchased this palace, and it was a palace, it was actually a palace of a king.  This king was evidently very evil, the village around that palace believed this palace was cursed, for about a century just sat there.  With this situation Chapel Missions India was able to purchase the palace for $8,000.  So they have a palace, it’s pretty wild, you know, a palace.  And they made it into an orphanage, that’s pretty cool too.  They call the kids there princes and princesses.  But it’s an actual palace.   Pretty wild, eight thousand dollars, what a bargain.  Right?  Well anyway, on the top of this palace is this open terrace, as you got to the very highest level, and they’ve even put a little bit of a canopy up there.  But as you stand up there, you can look out over the beautiful countryside and see all around.  I mean, it was a palace, made by somebody who was the ruler of the area.  But Bob Caldwell a number of times noted, when we were up there on this terrace, whenever I come to India, once a year, twice a year, we have our leaders get together, and he says we come up here for three days and just pray and fast, right up here. But they spend three days on that roof just praying for the ministry, three days prayer and fasting.  I had another conversation with Bob Caldwell where he was sharing with a church of five thousand members that the Lord has him pastoring, this Indian ministry is exploding, life is cool, and he mentioned to me a couple times in this one particular conversation I remember especially, he was sharing how, “You know I used to pray two hours a day as a pastor, and I’m finding it a challenge to do that, life is so full, that I want to get back to two hours a day.”  My point is, he’s a man that believes in prayer.  And he believes there’s effective prayer.  And you can tell by going to India, and seeing all that God’s doing.  Bob Caldwell has a ton of stories to tell you.  Just look at what God’s doing, consider this story.  Read the Magazine, you’ll get a little bit of a taste for it.  But he’s a man that prays.  In fact, in the magazine that has the article on the India trip, you’ll note the phrase ‘fasting and prayer’ a number of times, probably more than any other article in that magazine, describing him and his experiences.  He’s a man of prayer, and God is doing great things, and you can read it in his story there.  Well E.M. Bounds, a great man of prayer, in his book on prayer, shares that you don’t have quality prayer unless you have quantity prayer.  You don’t have quality unless you have quantity, and it takes quantity to get to quality.  Meaning the more you pray, the more you’re before the Lord, the more you actually begin to fulfill what’s here, the more you begin to learn what’s here, and you’re able to pray in the manner that’s listed here.  And I think it’s true, it takes quantity to learn the quality, the effective prayer.  That doesn’t mean you can’t just say a short prayer and it’s not effective prayer.  I mean, you can just say “Jesus, help” and Jesus can respond, prayer is effective, long or short.  But to learn the heart of what is here, it does take, I believe, a life of prayer, all the more to learn what’s here.

          So, prayer in your life, is prayer significant?  If it’s significant to you, you’ll look at your life and say, ‘Yes, prayer is significant to me, it’s part of my daily routine, it’s important to me.  And if it’s important, then the question too, or not important, do you see God responding to your prayers?  Can you just list, you know you have a prayer journal, ‘I look at these things I pray for, and look at the things God’s done, cool stuff.’  Well, if not, then may the Lord open your eyes to what is here as John says, man.  This is effective prayer.  And it starts with this boldness, this confidence towards Jesus Christ. 


We have direct access


          Secondly, and it’s looking into the Greek words here, there’s another point that can be made, and that is this point of direct access, direct access.  And I get that from the words “we have in him”, “we  have in him”, there’s a sense of direct access.  The word “we have”, the Greek word for that is in the present indicative tense, meaning “we have at all times”, meaning that Jesus is always available.  There’s a permanent availability, he’s always there.  It’s not that I have to hit him on certain days of the week, on Sunday morning, or a Wednesday night, or at the prayer-meeting on Tuesday morning, Thursday morning, he’s there all the time.  There’s an availability.  There’s always this opportunity to open my heart to him and pray.  But also that word “in”, we have “in him”, the word “in”, some would say that word could be translated better “towards”, because if you look at the Greek it has that literal sense “towards him”, “in him”, in a sense of “towards him.”  Meaning as a born-again believer, he’s constantly available for me to come straight to him.  I have direct access.  I don’t have to go another way.  I don’t  have to go through another individual.  I don’t have to go through his mother.  I don’t have to go through a Saint.  I don’t have to go through anybody with anything.  I have always direct access, directly to him.  And that’s effective prayer.  I need to go directly to him.  Going another way doesn’t work.  So when it says “towards him” we have “in him”, that is “we have towards him direct access”.  As the Scripture says, the writer of Hebrews in chapter 4 of this letter says “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in a time of need.”  May we come boldly in confidence to the throne of grace.  That is right to him.  Just come right to Jesus, directly to him.  I don’t need anybody else’s help, I don’t need anybody else’s assistance, the door is always, always open for me to enter in and to speak directly to Jesus Christ.  So, confidence, direct access. 


According to his will


          Now this direct access, the Bible is clear too that I shouldn’t go through anybody else.  Paul told Timothy “for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ”, he says ‘there’s one way.’  There’s one mediator, there’s not ten mediators, there’s not a thousand, there’s absolutely one mediator between myself and God.  There’s only one way, and it’s Jesus and Jesus alone.  [And Jesus was the one that was Yahweh in the Old Testament, in the Tabernacle and Temple, that’s how the Jews had Jesus back then, Yahweh as their Mediator—Jesus is God, God the Son.]  So, to try another out doesn’t work.  It is not effective prayer.  It will not work.  Effective prayer is a boldness, confidence toward Jesus Christ, and him alone.

          Now, with that, the real meat of this verse, the third point---you have the confidence, you have the direct access---and of course as you see there, is says very clearly, “if we ask anything according to his will”.  Effective prayer is always according to God’s heart and according to God’s will.  That is effective prayer.  It’s praying with a heart that’s consistent with God’s heart, praying with a heart and asking things that are consistent with God’s desires.  That is effective prayer.  So, with that, I’m finding more in my life, maybe you are doing the same, I find more and more that I’m asking God, ‘Give me your heart.’  God give me your desires.  In fact, I even ask God, ‘God, give me the desire to desire things that you desire for me, and take away the desires or minimize the desires that are in me that you don’t have for me.’  Because if you don’t have them for me, why do I want to waste time wanting them?  I just want to want what you want for me.  That just makes it work real great.  It’s a bummer when you want things that you can’t have.  ‘So Lord, work in my heart, all the more give me your heart, your desires, that I desire things that you desire for me.’  Now, as John says, the result, if we ask anything according to his will, the first thing he says is “that he will hear us.”  He hears us.  That word is a strong word, it means more than just that you know, he kind of overheard it, there’s a sense that he’s very attentive, that his ear is open to us.  You think of the king, somebody coming up and having the king’s ear, you know.  We use that phrase, and that’s the sense here, that we ‘have his ear’, that he hears, he’s attentive.  That is his desire, to listen and to respond, his heart is very open, very bold also towards us.  So, if we ask [according to his will], the first thing he says is that God hears us.  Now that’s important to me.  Sometimes you have the experience of praying, and you’re like, man, is God hearing my prayers.  I feel like I’m all alone in my prayer-closet or in my room, I feel like man, this is just exercise, it just doesn’t seem to be….that is something that is important, that yes, he’s hearing.  I think of the heart of David in Psalm 86 again in our Bible reading this week.  I mean, he wanted to know that God was listening.  He said, “Bow down your ear, oh Lord, bow down your ear, hear me, give ear oh Lord to my prayer and attend to the voice of my supplications.”  God listen to me, God hear me, these are the things on my heart.  The Psalmist in chapter 88 said “Oh Lord, God of my salvation, I’ve cried out to you day and night before you, let my prayer come before you, incline your ear to my cry.”  ‘Listen, Lord, listen, I have these things on my heart.’  Man, I want to know that God hears.  And he says when it’s done in a certain way, there’s this confidence, this direct access, in that we’re coming towards him and him alone, and when I’m praying according to his will, he hears.  He hears, I can know that he hears.  Man, it’s great to know when I come before him that he hears, his heart is open to me.  My cries aren’t bouncing off the ceiling, his eyes are right there going ‘OK George, yup, I hear you man, I hear you, alright, sure let’s do it.’


If he hears, he will answer


          Then he says if he hears, if he hears, “he will assuredly answer”, right, if we know that he hears, verse 15, if he hears us, whatever we ask, “we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”   If he’s listening and hearing, in the sense of what he’s saying here, if I have his ear, I can know because of who he is and the way he is towards me, I will have the things that I ask for.  So, confidence, direct access, according to his will, asking for the things that God wants and desires, when I do I have the things that I ask for.  This passage stands against the teaching of the Faith Movement.  And you’ve heard me, if you’ve been around here awhile, multiple times say that, because it’s so prevalent, so prevalent through our television tubes.  I meet people even in the church, and I’ll have a conversation and I’ll learn that they’ve been effected by the Faith Movement, they think certain things that aren’t true, about God, as far as asking things of God and him responding.  They’ve had a misunderstanding because of heresy that is prominent today in the Church. But this stands completely against that, this teaching that God always wants you healthy, God always wants you prosperous, and the only thing keeping you from being healthy, the only thing keeping you from being financially prosperous is your faith.  [This would be your “Health/Wealth” group, maybe one and the same as the “name it, claim it” group.]  So [according to their misinformed teachings] if you have faith, you will guarantee yourself to be healthy and prosperous.  And of course that can really be condemning to an individual who’s got, you know, cancer, and is asking God over and over and over.  And there are many people even in this community who have been hurt, aren’t even going to church today because a loved one has died, and they feel so condemned.  “And I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed, and God never healed him, and the leader in the church said it’s because you lacked faith.”  I’d like to go “Pop!” to that person, really, that’s ugh, that just rubs me the wrong way.  Forgive me for saying that.  [laughter]  That’s not the teaching of the Word of God.  It is not.  God is greater than that.  He’s much greater than that.  So this verse stands in complete contrast, completely against that.  And the truth is, it’s clear in the Scripture, God does not always want to heal me.  Yes, often does, God’s gift of healing.  I always ask God first, “God, please heal me.”  But there are times when God will say, “No.”  He’ll say “No, I want you to learn something even greater.  I could just heal you, but I want you to learn that my grace is sufficient for you, right there.”  And maybe it’s time for you to “come home”, and “I’m going to use this process.”  And why would you want that to stop?  You know, ‘Take me home, Lord.’  So the Bible teaches God doesn’t always guarantee us that he’s going to heal us.  Yes, yes, he does, often.  He’s the Great Physician.  But not always.  But secondly, too, the focus of the Scripture is God’s Kingdom, God’s will, God’s heart.  John has already told us, don’t get focused on the passing pleasures of the world.  And the Faith Movement gets people focused on the passing pleasures of the world.  They want all these possessions.  And you can have possessions, but they’re teaching focuses you to ask for that possession, seek God for that possession.  And the Bible says ‘Don’t worry about it, seek first his Kingdom [read Matthew 6:25-31].  That’s the heart.  It’s all about Jesus.  It’s all about him, you’ve got all you need in Jesus.  So the Faith Movement, this [passage] stands in stark contrast. 

In fact, there are “faith teachers” that say “you should not say in your prayer ‘Thy will be done’.”  That’s interesting, because Jesus said to say “Thy will be done.”  But they [these faith teachers] say that that’s a lack of faith to say “Thy will be done.”  I say it takes greater faith to say “Thy will be done.”  Because I’m thinking, ‘Oh Lord, I need this, I want this.  Thy will be done, though, Lord.’  ‘And I’m asking you to heal my body, Lord, asking you to heal my child, but your will be done.’  Meaning, ‘If you don’t, I’m still going to trust you.  I’m going to still walk with you, I’m going to still love you, I’m going to still seek to glorify you in my life.’  It takes more faith to say and mean that.  Jesus made it clear in that wonderful prayer, he taught us, Luke chapter 11, verse 2, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven….  That’s the prayer we were taught to pray.  [Another slang name for this Faith Movement, is the “name it, claim it” group.]  Jesus is an example of that, in the Garden of Gesemene.  Luke chapter 22, verse 42, he prayed “Father, if it is your will, take this cup away from me, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.  That’s the way he prayed.  In that verse, we read he’s saying ‘God, my flesh, very much, I don’t want this, I’d rather go another road, and that’s what I want.  But what I want even more is your will be done, your will be done.’  So, that’s what’s being said here by John, it’s praying according to his will.  You know the phrase “Praying in the name of the Lord”, it includes that same thing, if you pray in his name, certainly you’re praying according to his desires, and will.  John chapter 15, verse 16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.  And whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”  It’s the same kind of thing, asking in his name is asking according to his will.  James made it clear too.  When we ask for things that are contrary to God’s desires for us, he will not grant them.  James chapter 4, verse 3, “You ask, and do not receive, not because you lack faith, but because you ask amiss that you may spend it upon your pleasures.”  He’s saying this to the Christians in church, ‘You’re asking for things that I don’t want to give you.  You’re asking for this with the wrong heart and wrong motive.’  Fosdick once said “God is not a cosmic bell-boy for whom we can press a button to get things”, ‘come on, bell-boy, let’s go, I want an Hors’d’erve, I want a little champagne, ring, ring, ring, bell-boy.’  He’s not that, it doesn’t work that way.  Effective prayer is always praying according to the will of the Lord.  Chuck Smith says about prayer, “God never did intend prayer to be an instrument by which you can get your will done on earth, it was to be an instrument whereby we might cooperate with God in getting his will done on earth.” When we pray with that attitude in heart, man that’s effective.  Jesus said in John chapter 4, verse 34, his heart and his focus in all he did, he said “My food is to do the will him who sent me, and to finish his work.”  So that’s what I pray, ‘What is your will, what is your desire?  Father that is what I want to do.’  And that’s the focus of effective prayer.  Warren Wiersby, man you can quote a lot of great men on this type of issue on prayer, he says “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, it is laying hold on God’s willingness.”  It’s not trying to wrestle with him to get something out of him, it’s saying ‘this is your heart and desire, so Dad, can I, can we?  Lord?’  D.L. Moody shared about prayer, he said “Spread out your petition before God, and then say ‘Thy will, not mine be done.’  The sweetest lesson I’ve learned in God’s school is to let the Lord choose for me.”  Another Chinese Christian said about prayer, he said “I used to pray that God would do this or that, now I pray that God would make his will known to me.”  ‘What do you want to do Lord?  What do you want to do?  Lead me in prayer.’  And finally, another Christian wrote, “Prayer is the chief agency and activity whereby men align themselves with God’s purpose.  Prayer does not consist of battering the walls of heaven for personal benefit, or for the success of our plans, rather it is the committing of ourselves for the carrying out of his purpose, it is the telephone call to the Headquarters of the Universe for orders, it is not bending God’s will to ours but it’s bending our will to God’s.” ….And he says certain things about intercessory prayer for other people that really should compel us to do it, because he says it’s very effective.  It’s really effective, I hope you’ve learned it in your life.  But just imagine praying with this confidence and this heart, with a heart of God for your wife, for your husband, for your children, for your church, for the community, for the country.  Are there things that God wants to do in this community, and he wants to move, and because of his sovereignty and the way he works, he’s just waiting for somebody to ask, ‘God please, God open this door, God raise up these people, God work in this area of this community,’ or whatever it might be?  Just imagine praying and often seeing the things you pray for come to pass, little things, big things, praying and God working.  The story, Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, the story of Daniel Nash.   I used this years ago in a sermon.  “A tombstone in northern New York near the Canadian border in a neglected cemetery along a dirt road reads”, so this is a tombstone in no-man’s land:


Daniel Nash, laborer with Finney, mighty in prayer, November 17th, 1775 to December 20th 1831.”


Daniel Nash, mighty in prayer.  “Father Nash, as some called him had a mediocre record as a pastor in upstate New York.  But then he decided at the age of 48 to give himself totally to prayer for Charles Finney and his meetings during the 2nd Great Awakening.  God worked so powerfully through these men that in only one year’s time a hundred thousand people came to the Lord in the city of Rochester New York alone.”  Whew!  “Father Nash would quietly slip into a town three or four weeks before Finney’s arrival and rent a room, find two or three other like-minded Christians to join him, and start pleading with God.  In one place, Finney tells the story, ‘When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house, she said ‘Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash?  He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bit of food.  I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces.  They’d been there this way for three days lying prostrate on the floor and groining.  I thought something awful must have happened to them.  I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do.  Would you please come and see about them?’  ‘No, it isn’t necessary’ I replied, ‘they just have a spirit of prevailing prayer.’  Once the public meetings began, Nash usually did not attend, he kept praying in his hide-away for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to melt the crowd.  Shortly before Nash died in the winter of 1831 he wrote in a letter “I am now convinced, it is my duty and privilege and the duty of every other Christian to pray for as much of the Holy Spirit as come down on the Day of Pentecost and a great deal more.  My body is in pain, but I am happy in my God, I’ve only just begun to understand what Jesus meant when he said ‘all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.’  Within four months of his death Finney left the itinerate field to become a pastor of a church in New York City, his partner in cracking the gates of hell was gone.”  And that’s just quoting Jim Cymbala.  So when he died, Finney said ‘Well, might as well stop this crusade stuff, my prayer-warrior is dead.  I’ll go and pastor a church.’  Wow!  But he said, just before he died in his writings, ‘I’ve just started to learn what Jesus means all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.’  That’s praying with confidence towards Jesus.  That’s praying with the sense ‘God, your will be done, God lead me.’  You know, lots of stories, even in this church where we have prayed in our prayer-meetings and asked God to do things, like even recently.  I was with a brother from the church and we were over at the hospital, I said, you’ve got to check this out, look at what the Lord has done.  We are seeking to start a Christian school, we’re asking God to lead us, we’ve decided to postpone the opening of it by a year, but we’ve been meeting and praying, and seeking the Lord.  And I all along have been saying ‘God, lead us, if you’re not in it, we don’t want to be part of it.  But if it is your will, it would be great to open the doors and start a Christian school.’  Well, as we were seeking the Lord, I could give you stories where we’ve seen God just kind of bless in different ways and it certainly seems that he’s in it, but I remember one season, I really felt on my heart, it would be neat to have partitioned walls downstairs, you know, the folding kind that are sound-proof, so we could divide up the old sanctuary and just change the layout, which we’re going to do with the downstairs.  And we could move walls around on Sunday mornings, we could make it into school classrooms during the week, and whatever.  So we started to look into this, and I didn’t know they were so expensive.  In fact, just to get two little walls put up, and that wasn’t all that I hoped for, but two little walls, we had a person come in and check it out, a company, and they said it was about $22,000.  22 Grand for two folding walls, maybe we should just build walls, you know.  So I remember even, the people on our team, telling them, ‘look on the internet, look anywhere you can in the country,’  22 Grand, hey we can drive to Arizona with a truck and pick up some and bring them back, I mean, that would be just a Grand or so, and that seemed like it would be a pretty good deal.  ‘Anywhere in the country, can we get used ones?’  We asked this guy from this company, ‘Can you get us some used ones, we’re a church?’  And he said ‘I hardly ever, it’s a rarity, expensive.’  We were in one prayer-meeting, and I remember the gist of our prayers was ‘Lord, you know, if you’re in this, it would be really cool, just provide us with some partition walls, if it’s your will.  If not, we’ll just build physical walls.’  Well it seemed impossible, we were asking for an impossibility, I know as I was praying, it was going to take a miracle.  ‘You can do it, if you want to do it, we’re just asking, really show us that you’re in this Lord.’  So anyway, like the next week, somebody who works at the hospital right in the right position, next week gets this submission from somebody in the hospital that’s in charge of certain areas, saying ‘Hey, we want to take down our partition walls in the cafeteria, and I’d like to propose buying news ones and take these old ones down.’  Well, it happened to go across the desk of somebody in this church.  Like an Esther, he’s right in the right place.  You know what I mean?  So the very next week, after that one little prayer-meeting, he comes to me and says ‘Hey, the hospital may be taking some down.  And maybe we can talk to the company, maybe we can talk to the hospital to see if they’re willing to give us the old ones.’  Well, it all kind of started to work around, and seemed, and I had a meeting with somebody from the hospital, that there was a willingness.  ‘If they put new ones in you can have the old ones.’  But I remember going to the meeting, I had told this individual from our church, I told him ‘Hey, tell them, we’ll go in and take them down.  I mean, they’re heavy, a lot of work, we’ll take ‘em down, save them money that way’, whatever we can do here just to sell this to them, you know ‘we want your old partition wall.’  And I’ve seen them in the hospital, wonderful walls.  They’re exactly the same height as our height downstairs, to the inch, they’re exactly the same height.  They’re the right color, and they’re also the right length as far as what we want to cover.  Well I remember going to meet with the guy, and I’m thinking, I don’t look like a pastor, so he’s going to look at me going ‘This guy’s not a pastor’, so I’m not going to have any credibility with this guy, and I’m going to try to tell him, ‘Hey, yeah, we’ve got guys that can take this down for you.’  Right?  Trust me.  Well, I’m meeting with him, and as we’re talking he says ‘Hey, you can pick these up on the loading docks over on the back of the hospital.’  I said ‘What do you mean on the loading docks?’  We’re going to take them down.  And he says ‘No, we’re going to pay for them to be taken down, and we’ll just stack them for you on the loading docks in the back.’  ‘Really?  Cool.’  And I was honestly worrying how you take these things down.  But the deal is, it isn’t Arizona, it’s Gardner, you know what I mean, loading docks.  Pull up a truck.  Drive ‘em back to the church.  I’m like ‘Cool!’  But you know, you’ve been around, and there’s so many stories we have as a church, where we’ve said “God, please….”  And it seems with his heart, petitioning an awesome God, and he said “Sure, watch, I’ll do it.”  You look at these beams right here, you’ve heard me, I won’t go down that road, so many things [laughter], so many things, you know.


How can we know?


          Well, how can we know that we’re praying according to the will of God?  How can I know that?  That’s the challenge, isn’t it?  How do I know?  Well, one way I can know, if I am praying something that he has already promised in his Word, I’m praying according to his will.  God says ‘George, I promise you victory over anything in the flesh.’  God says “George, I promise you peace.’  ‘I promise you joy.’  ‘I promise you soundness of mind.’  ‘I promise you boldness.’  Whatever he promises me in his Word, I can know without a doubt that when I come to him, I can go ‘Yup!  I’m lacking it, yes, Lord give it to me.’  And he’ll say ‘Here.’  That’s the teaching in the Word of God.  It would be strange for God to say ‘I promise you this’, and then not to do it.  I’ll confess, sometimes as a dad I’m limited physically, and my kids will ask, it happens now and then, ‘Hey dad, can we go and play baseball later today?’  And I’ll say ‘Yes.’  In fact it happened the other day with my daughter, I had made a promise with her that I was going to do something with her, and said ‘Yes, let’s go do this.  But you’re going to have to wait.’  But then it turned out the way things unraveled, I wasn’t able to do it, and the day ended.  And I was unfaithful to what I said.  But I didn’t mean to be.  But God is never like that.  He says “I’ll do this”, he says it in his Word, so many things.  And I know if I come to him and say ‘God, I need victory,’ and say ‘I don’t want this anymore in my life, Jesus, I’m asking for victory.’  He says ‘There you go, man.  You already got it.  Let me help you.’  That’s what it means, praying according to his will.  If it’s in his Word, man, you got it if you ask for it.  Secondly, there’s a lot of things you can pray for that aren’t necessarily written in the Bible.  Partition walls, specifics in our lives, so many things.  Well how do I know that I’m praying according to the will of the Lord?  Turn to Romans, and this is a simple answer to that.  Romans chapter 8, verse 26, this is all about the wonderful walk and life of the Spirit.  “Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Holy Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  It says the Holy Spirit leads us.  I don’t know at times what I should pray for, I don’t know how I should pray, but the Holy Spirit will lead me.  So, knowing how to pray according to the will of the Lord is learning through times of prayer to hear the voice of God.  It’s learning to sense the direction of the Holy Spirit.  It’s being in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, yielding to the Spirit.  When you do that, man, you can pray, you can pray for amazing things, as God is leading to you, as he is ministering to your heart, and you can watch God do great things.  I remember being back in San Diego and saying “Lord, it sure would be great, as we’re moving back to New England, it would be great to be part of Christian radio.”  And God said “Here.”  And we moved back, and the day we got here we had a radio station.  And if I go back, there’s no way in the world, it seems so far removed, yet it was on my heart, I had a burden about it, and I asked the Lord, and he said “Here, here’s a radio station….”  So you can pray for huge, little, whatever, according to the will of God.  So if it’s in his Word, you can know you’re praying according to his heart and will.  And also if you’re led in the Spirit, the Spirit, letting God lead you, letting God direct you.  Well effective prayer is direct, it’s confident, and it’s according to the will of God.


Things that can hinder your prayer-life


  Now what John doesn’t list here is there are ways and things that can hinder my prayer-life.  We’ve noted those at other times.  Psalm 66, un-confessed sin clearly can hinder my prayer-life.  1st John chapter 3, verse 22, John already said effective prayer is a life that is obedient to the Word of God.  So un-confessed sin, disobedience, if I don’t make my heart right with God, that can hinder my prayer-life.  Sin against another individual, Peter said to the husbands, if you don’t do this with your wife and treat her in a certain way, you’re prayers will be hindered.  So, sin, un-confessed sin, sin against an individual.  But also just not abiding in Christ, not abiding in the Spirit, John chapter 15, verse 7, will also hinder my prayer.  When I’m walking with the Lord, walking with the Spirit, man I can come so confidently to Jesus and pray with boldness, and see God do great things.  I’ll read to you one more comment from Jim Cymbala in his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire [available at or, be sure to buy a copy for yourself!], speaking about how great saints of old prayed, he said “This is how it is with God’s mighty men and women, they are famous in heaven.  They win crowns that make all earth’s riches seem like cheap tinsel.  They may witness, teach, lead and pray for security on earth, but they are the talk of heaven.  In every century on every continent warriors such as these are the ones who press forward the kingdom of God.  They lay aside the distractions of life to do exploits in the spiritual realm.  Whether or not they become famous on earth is beside the point.  They are heroes and heroines nonetheless.””  [tape unexpectedly ends.  Transcript of a sermon given in New England on 1st John 5:14-15]


For resources on prayer on this website log onto and refer to the upper nav bar for links to all the prayer resources on this site.                                 

Click Here to print


content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
Questions or problems with the web site contact the WebServant - Hosted and Maintained by CMWH, Located in the Holy Land