- Lesson 13 in the Connect360 unit “Prayer That Moves Heaven: Power With Purpose” focuses on 1 John 5:14-15.
Believers can have confidence in God answering their prayers—on one condition. They must ask according to God’s will, or in a way that aligns with God’s will. And aligning with his will comes from abiding in him or staying close to him. In John 15:7, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” In other words, the closer believers cling to God, the more their desires will begin to match the desires of God.
Aligning with the will of God echoes Jesus’ statement in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). While he was on earth, Jesus lived out God’s will by doing only what the Father wanted. In John 6:38, Jesus said he had come from heaven not to do his own will, “but… the will of him who sent me.” He also said his food (that which sustained him) was to “do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34). Even Jesus said, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus’ entire life and ministry was to do what his Father wanted.
Unfortunately, many people do not see their prayers answered because they do not ask God. Even when they ask, God does not answer their prayer because they “ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Some prayers are not answered because God has the bigger picture and is accomplishing his will on a cosmic scale. But other times, prayers go unanswered because they are sinful, selfish and do not honor God.
One of the difficulties in following God’s will is knowing what he desires. While the Bible is clear on some issues, such as sharing the gospel or loving one’s neighbor, Scripture may not speak to other issues. Where should I go to college? Should I take this job? How do I speak with this coworker? In those instances, some believers—especially those who are young in the faith— worry they will miss out on God’s will and somehow make an irreparable mistake.
However, in the areas where Scripture doesn’t give overt directions, believers still can follow the will of God. They can seek the basic principles of Scripture (speaking the truth in love, for example) as a guide. They can also glean from the wisdom of other believers. And they can also listen for the Holy Spirit to speak. Jesus promised the Spirit would guide believers into all truth (John 16:13). The combination of Scripture, the faith community and the Spirit can be a good guide for making decisions within the will of God.
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