This past weekend I learned anew the majestic power of prayer, specifically the type of prayer lifted confidently when we know our prayer aligns with God’s will. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 Jn 3:21-22)
Part of the reason so many Christians aren’t living an abundant life is because they are not experiencing the kind of Christian living described in this passage. They have not entered into this kind of relationship, where each day they experience the glorious adventure of seeing a living God at work, answering prayer, and giving to them things that they ask. But in this passage we have a beautiful picture of the normal life of a Christian. It is all centered in prayer, because prayer is the most fundamental relational activity that a Christian can experience. Prayer is the expression of dependence on a loving God, and the whole Christian life is to be characterized by a continuous attitude and spirit of prayer.
Look at the earmarks of true prayer that John brings out in this passage. First, there is the spirit of prayer. In the NASB, the translation says “we have confidence before God” (and the word is, literally, boldness); we have boldness before God. If we have boldness before someone, it implies that we are in a close relationship with that person, that we have a clear right to come before him or her. There is no fear of rebuke but a good understanding between you. Thus, to have confidence or boldness before God implies that we have a clear understanding of our right to come before Him. Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matt 21:22).
Prayer is to grow out of such an understanding of the truth God has declared in His Word, that we have no questions about our right to come. We do not come on our own merit or position before Him, for we know that we have no such ground. We come on Christ’s merit. We come “in His name”, and thus we can have boldness. By our faith in Jesus, our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14), we have entered His rest (Heb 4:11, Matt 11:28). We have studied His Word and have laid ourselves bare before the Lord who discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart, and shown us of all that we must repent (Heb 4:12-13).
Because we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weakness, we are encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Literally, the other day I prayed again about a hurtful situation in my family, but in that moment I trusted that the Lord knew my heart because I couldn’t even form words or thoughts. But I have the confidence that the Lord knows my heart and that the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf when I can’t. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26)
The purpose of prayer in today’s verse is “we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him”. God is a loving and giving God, and He wants us to be on the receiving end of His grace, not just in eternity but in our day-to-day lives. He delights to give to us and He has all the resources of a superabundant universe from which to pour out to us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
God wants to make us rich, but not in material things always, for that is not where true riches lie. He longs to give us the riches of abundant life-His peace and joy that Christ came to give. There’s nothing more exciting than to see an invisible God do in our life, visible things that only He can do; meeting our needs, satisfying our heart, and doing what we can never do. If we are poverty-stricken it is only our own fault, for God has designed a wonderful process by which we might receive from Him. That is the purpose of prayer–to ask in faith for His power, peace and joy to intervene here on earth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3).
Even in my humble groanings, the Lord answered my prayer mightily. Walls are coming down between family members, hearts are being softened, and love is flowing. I can’t wait to see how the Lord will further use this to enlarge His kingdom here on earth and bring His salvation to those who have resisted it.
Thank you, Father, for the wonderful provision waiting for me to step into each day through prayer. May I have the simple faith to approach You boldly in prayer, knowing that You love to give good gifts to Your children. Lord, I thank You for continuing to grow Your love in my heart so that I do ask You in faith to intervene here on earth, knowing that only You can tear down walls the enemy has helped to erect. Lord, I also thank You for continuing to remind me that You don’t always choose to act until we ask in faith, knowing that You are our only hope. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.
Source: Power in Prayer by Ray Steadman