In 1 John 5:14-15, we read: “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.” (KJV) This passage contains one of the great “secrets” to answered prayer. But the sad reality today is that there are many so-called Christians who lack confidence in prayer. And one of the reasons they lack confidence in prayer is because they lack confidence in God!
But why is this the case? Why would people lack confidence in God? Well, you can’t have confidence in someone you don’t trust! And you can’t trust or have faith in someone you don’t know! And you can’t know someone without having a relationship with them! And you can’t have a relationship with them if you have no communication or interaction with them! Simply put, many people lack confidence in prayer because they lack confidence in God! And they lack confidence in God because, contrary to the doctrinal creeds they espouse; they have no real personal relationship with God.
But God is “knowable” and God desires to have a personal relationship with all of us! We can “know” God through His word because that is the how God reveals Himself to us. Just as we can know any person through their word; we can know God through His word! Now the text we cited states that if we ask anything according to God’s will, God hears us! How can we know what we ask is according to His will? By reading His word! His word reveals His will!
Now, the prime prerequisite to confidence in prayer is that we have a proper relationship with God! Contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t hear every prayer a sinner prays! The only prayer God hears from a sinner is the prayer of repentance! Until we repent of our sins and turn to God for forgiveness and salvation, we have no basis for a relationship with God! In fact, even after we are in right relationship with God, God still doesn’t hear our prayers if we are out of sorts with Him because of unconfessed sins, or out of sorts with one another because of strife or un-forgiveness! So you see, prayer is not just the matter of a “magical chant!” There are certain preconditions that must be met and maintained! But once the prerequisites are met and maintain, we can have confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers!
One last word about having confidence in God in regard to prayer: Prayer should never be a last resort; it should always be a first response! Prayer is communion and communication with God! Prayer is not simply a means of giving God a “shopping list” of the things you want! How would you feel if you had a friend and the only time you heard from them was when they needed you or wanted you to do something for them? No! Prayer is not an emergency measure, to be used only in case of emergencies; it is the normal everyday means of maintaining a healthy relationship with God. Real prayer is not just us talking to God, but also allowing God to speak to us! When a real prayer-relationship with God is the normal everyday routine, we can have the confidence the biblical writer wrote about! We can have confidence that whatever we ask according to His will, He hears and will grant us the petitions we ask of Him!