“THE IMPORTANCE OF GOD’S WILL” 1 John 5:13-15
INTRO – I love grilled pork chops! And I have a high level of confidence in my grilled pork chops. Some of my fondest memories of Daddy at home are standing w/ him at his grill in the backyard watching him flip those juicy pork chops. I watched him so many times, learning from him, & then enjoying the fruit of his labor when we all sat down to eat. Sometimes he would let me flip them. Sometimes he would let me squirt water on the flames when they got too hot. And, now when Vicki & I ask the kids what they want for supper when they come over, they frequently say, “Daddy’s pork chops.” In fact, just a few weeks ago when Rachel had her bday, she asked for “Daddy’s pork chops” when Vicki asked what she wanted for her bday supper.
What is something you do in which you have a high level of confidence? How would you finish this sentence: “I am confident that I can do ________ well…” Some may be confident in musical ability…social skills…selling things…athletic abilities…mechanical skills…mathematics…cooking…hunting/fishing…
Did any of you put the word “pray” in the blank? Could you honestly put that word in the blank? How many of us today can say, “I am confident that I can pray well.” What about your prayer life? Are you confident in your prayer life?
- Are you confident that you are praying the right way?
- Are you confident that you are praying for the right things?
- Are you confident that God is hearing you?
- Are you confident that God is going to answer you?
We all have those attacks of doubt that invade our mind from time to time. I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about you & I have deep, unwavering confidence in our prayer life, even when the doubts creep in. Is that kind of confidence possible for us to have? Absolutely! As we look at our Scripture passage for today, we will see that having confidence in our prayer lives is something that every Christ-follower can expect to have if we will follow God’s clear guidelines & principles. I love this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use. What matters is the faith, which lays hold on God, knowing that He knows our needs before we even ask Him. That is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty.” How awesome it would be for EACH of us who are Christ-followers to have that “boundless confidence” & “joyous certainty” when we pray! And, friends, we CAN have that certainty & confidence! And it all hinges on God’s will!
Some people see v. 14-15 as a formula for prayer. “Do step 1,2,3, & – PRESTO! – you get your answer to prayer!” That’s not what these verses teach us. We are tempted in our world of instant everything to believe that we can have “instant answers to prayer.” There are tons of people who have bought into this kind of teaching & found themselves shipwrecked in their faith when they didn’t get the healing that they had prayed for, or the job that they prayed for, or the marriage that they had prayed for, or the raise that they had prayed for. “What happened, God? You let me down! You didn’t answer my prayer!” Then the enemy gets involved in those thoughts & ideas & builds deeper & deeper doubts & bitterness & frustrations into their minds.
Listen to the truth in these verses again: “And this is the confidence – boldness, courage, frankness, freedom of speech – that we have toward Him, that if we ask – request, beg – anything according to – along the road or path of His will – desire, wish, purpose, decision, intent – He hears us – give heed, understands us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have – possess, own, hold on to, retain – the requests that we have asked of Him.”
Friends, we need to pray according to God’s will, which means that we need to let God be God. As one writer said, “God does not serve as our butler” (Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary – Letter of John, p. 224). In other words, He’s not bound to OUR wishes when we pray. He is going to answer our prayers when we are praying according to His will. What did Jesus teach His disciples to pray in the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” D.L. Moody once said, “Before I was converted, I used to ask God to give me $100,000, & b/c He didn’t do it, I thought that He didn’t keep His promise to answer prayer. But I didn’t abide in Him. Now He answers all my prayers, for I say: ‘Thy will be done,’ & so I know that if He doesn’t give me just what I ask for, He gives me just what I ought to have. People curse God b/c they do not prosper. But He has never said that He would bless the disobedient & rebellious. If your child refuses to obey you, do you give him presents or do you punish him? If I do not try to please God, I cannot claim any of His promises.” Alex & Stephen Kendrick: “A lifestyle of obedience – while not a condition that earns salvation – is a major key to answered prayer” (The Battle Plan for Prayer, p. 114).
Our confidence in our prayer life is directly connected to our understanding & living out of God’s will. So let’s talk about God’s will:
It is God’s will that we be saved – There is 1 prayer that I can absolutely guarantee you that God will answer every time it is prayed. When a repentant sinner calls out to God to be saved, God will answer that prayer! Look at the confidence that John writes about in v. 13 – God’s will is that you be saved & that you KNOW that you are saved! Listen to 2 Peter 3:9 in the MSG version – “God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” God wants you to be saved! He has made every provision for you to be saved. He has poured out His love for you to be saved. He has poured out His wrath on His own Son for you to be saved. Back up to v. 11-12 & see what God has done for you to be saved.
It is God’s will that He be glorified – We can have confidence in our prayers when our chief concern is that God be glorified in whatever & however He answers our prayers. The chief pursuit of our life should be to glorify God in everything we say & do.
- 1 Cor. 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER YOU DO, do all to the glory of God.”
- 1 Pet. 4:11 – “…that IN EVERYTHING God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”
The great Puritan theologian, Thomas Watson, said, “The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions…A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God has not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience.”
There’s no reason for us to have any confidence in prayer if we aren’t deeply & primarily concerned that our lives bring glory to God in every way. But, when we are striving – as imperfect as our striving might be – to glorify God, we can have complete confidence that God is hearing our prayers & that He will answer them in the most God-glorifying way possible. Remember what D.L. Moody said? “…He has never said that He would bless the disobedient & rebellious…If I do not try to please God, I cannot claim any of His promises.”
It is God’s will that His timing is perfect – Part of God’s work in our lives is to teach us to wait on Him, to wait on His perfect timing. But waiting is NOT something that we enjoy or do very well!
- Lines at Wal-Mart or grocery store
- Doctor’s office
- Sex before marriage
We can have great confidence in our prayers when God does not immediately answer our prayers. We can trust that He is teaching us something very important that we need in our lives. Augustine: “God is never in a hurry b/c He has all eternity to work.” Listen to these confidence-building verses from Psalms:
- 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord; be strong & let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
- 40:1-3 – “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me & heard my cry. He drew me up form the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, & set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see & fear, & put their trust in the Lord.”
- 62:5-8 – “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock & my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken! On God rests my salvation & my glory; my might rock, my refuge is God! Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us!”
It is God’s will that we trust Him no matter what – The Christian life is a life of faith – PERIOD! Every time we bow our heads to pray, it is an act of faith. We are trusting that the unseen God of all the universe is hearing us & that He is actively working in our world & in our lives to bring about His K’dom work for His glory & His glory alone. God will not be manipulated, man-handled, or messed with. He is God Almighty & is in complete control of everything in the entire universe. THIS God is THE God to Whom we pray, & we must trust Him, no matter what our circumstances look like, no matter what the cynics say to us, no matter what situation seems to require that we do.
- 2 Cor. 5:7 – “We walk by faith & not by sight.”
- 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, & lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him, & He will make your paths straight.”
- 11:6 – “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
- 26:4 – “Trust in the Lord forever…”
- 16:20 – “…blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”
- 17:20 – “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Our confidence in prayer will grow by leaps & bounds when we learn to trust Him no matter what!
CONCLUSION – So let’s conclude by praying according to God’s will today:
- God’s will that you be saved
- God’s will that He be glorified
- God’s will that His timing is perfect
- God’s will that we trust Him, no matter what