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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Prayer Works

In review of 1 John 5:14-15 it says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him” (NIV).

Today’s passages come from the last part of 1 John 5. John says he has written this to all who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that we may know we have eternal life. And that we can be confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. Lastly he reminds us to keep away from anything that might take God's place in our hearts.

John says I can know that I have eternal life. This certainty is based on God's promise that he has give me eternal life through his Son. And this is true whether I feel close to God or far away from Him. Eternal life is not based on feelings but on facts. So I can know that I have eternal life if I believe God's truth and have committed my life to him as my Savior and Lord.

The emphasis on asking and receiving is based on God's will, not my own. When I communicate with God, I shouldn’t demand what I want; rather I discuss with him what he wants for me. If I align my prayers to his will, he will listen; and I can be certain that if he listens, he will give me a definite answer. Given this, I can pray with confidence.

There are many things that can take God's place in my life. This includes anything that substitutes for the true faith, anything that denies Christ's full deity and humanity, any human idea that claims to be more authoritative than the Bible, or any loyalty that replaces God at the center of our lives.

John presented a clear picture of Christ. What I ultimately think about Jesus Christ is central to my life. Jesus is the God-man, fully God and fully human at the same time. He came to earth to die in my place for my sins. Though faith in him, I am given eternal life and the power to do his will.

There are times when I’ve wondered if prayer really works? The enemy whispers, “Prayer is a waste of time. Forget it! Who do you think you are? What do you think you’re doing? God isn’t even listening.”

But the truth is: Prayer works because God is in control.

The basis of all miracles is God’s sovereignty. God is the Almighty, who has all power in Heaven and on Earth, so his purpose and his will prevail. I can learn to trust his wisdom and his goodness. I can learn about his loving nature and his generous character.

My faith matures as I understand that God has a better view of my circumstances than I do, and that he knows what is best for me. He can see my future, and I can’t. The Bible says, “But his plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally” (Psalm 33:11 GNT).

But what I’m learning is that God’s unlimited resources are available to me. Twenty times in the New Testament it says, “Ask.” It’s encouraging to know that things out of my control are not out of God’s control? I may not be able to change a situation, but I can pray and God can change it.

However, If I can pray and ask God to change things, and if God is really in control of everything, why don’t I get everything I pray for?” Here are three things to keep in mind:

God is not a genie. Just because I pray, that doesn’t mean I get whatever I want. If every prayer were answered, I’d be a spoiled brat. As a parent I didn’t always give my daughter everything she asked for. As an adult, I knew what was best for her. I could see the bigger picture. If we can see the bigger picture for my daughter, how much bigger is the picture that God can see for me?

Sometimes I pray in conflict, Sometimes we pray for different outcomes, even though they’re praying about the same thing. Which prayer is God going to answer? God can’t answer every prayer in the same way at the same time.

God knows what’s best, and I don’t. The Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV). That’s how Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42 NLT).

Prayer works. It isn’t a waste of time. God is in control, and he wants to hear my prayers, he is listening!

Bottom Line:
We can be assured that when we pray according to His will that he will hear what we ask for.

What this means to me:
I can have confidence that when I approach God and ask for things according to his will, that he will hear me.

So when I pray in His will, and not my own, I can be confident that He will hear me. Also, my faith matures as I understand God knows my circumstances and what's best for me.