God Hears and Acts
Read 1 John 5:5-15
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
The silence of prayer can sometimes be deafening. When we pray in the quiet of our hearts, sometimes we are struck by the silence we hear. It is challenging to pray and converse with a God we cannot see. We long for a voice, a sound, a feeling of affirmation that God hears us, and he will act on our behalf.
It is no wonder then that as John writes to encourage fellow believers, he affirms the confidence that we can have before God. In verse, he reminds them that we have the assurance of eternal life. In a verse that reflects on the whole message, John writes to remind them that if we “believe in the name of the Son of God… you may know that you have eternal life.” The word that John uses is to be fully cognizant or aware of the fact that is known. This is knowledge that is absolute and beyond all doubt. When we have embraced the gospel and the salvation that Christ gives us, we do not just hope that we will be saved; we have the undeniable reality that we are saved. This assurance is not based upon our merit or our ability to “keep ourselves saved” but solely upon the infinite grace and power of God, who has forgiven our sin and elevated us to a position of being co-heirs with Christ.
Our confidence in our standing before God as his children gives us confidence before him in prayer. To stand in the presence of the living God can easily incite fear and apprehension, a fear that Isaiah felt when we trembled in the presence of a Holy God in Isaiah 6. However, because of Christ, we now have boldness and complete confidence, to be honest before God and be free to ask him our requests. He will hear us, and he will always act upon our behalf. In verse 15, we are provided with this assurance. He pays attention to us; he listens with a desire to respond.
However, in verse 14, we find one important caveat, one that does not elicit any fear or apprehension but should give us hope and confidence. If God promised to provide us with what we ask, it would prove detrimental to our wellbeing. Like a child who only asks for what they want without any comprehension of the long-term consequences, we often ask for things that ultimately would bring us harm. We ask for prosperity and wealth even though these things often cause our hearts to grow distant from God. Nevertheless, in His infinite wisdom, God looks beyond the present and sees the long-term effect, and so he answers, not according to our will, but according to his will. God, in His grace, gives us much more than we ask, for His answers are in alignment with his perfect will and plan for our life. We ask for the temporal; God gives us the eternal. We ask for the superficial; God gives us the substantial.
In light of the promise to answer according to his will, we discover two essential truths. First, we can trust God always to give us what is most important, even when we do not realize it. God has our ultimate good in mind, and he will not give us that which is harmful, even when we demand it. Second, as we pray, we need to learn to align our will and our requests to the will and purpose of God, which he has revealed in his Word. Instead of praying for God’s blessing, we can pray for God to uses us as channels of his blessings to others. Instead of praying for prosperity, we can pray for a deeper relationship with him. When we make these our requests, then we know he will answer.