When does GOD really ANSWER our PRAYERS? "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15)
As Apostle John concludes his first general epistle, he answers a question that has been in the minds of many Christians through the centuries past. The question is: when does God really answer our prayers? We come across many charlatan preachers who advocate the theory: “name it and claim it” based on a declaration that Jesus had made before He left the earth: "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14). However, in reality they are twisting the words of Jesus and not paying attention to the words of Jesus in the previous verse that states: "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13). Ultimately, God should receive the glory when our prayers are answered!
Many times we pray for certain things or situations, but our prayers are not answered as we are off-target and our prayers are intensely selfish in nature. This is how Apostle James describes it: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3). We really do not know what we should pray for, and we should ask God to teach us how to pray as did the disciples in Luke 11:1: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples". This is confirmed by another scripture: "For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought..." (Romans 8:26). So, how do we truly know what to pray for, and when does God really answer our prayers?
Apostle John answers this question as follows: the key to knowing that God hears our prayers is to pray according to His will. Prayer is just another expression of our trust in Jesus Christ and our confidence toward God. God will hear our prayers and answer them because we are His children asking for help to do His will. God will always grant that kind of prayer request from us. The Bible theologian Alford has explained it well: “If we knew God's will thoroughly, and submitted to it heartily, it would be impossible for us to ask anything for the spirit or for the body which He should not perform…it is the Spirit who teaches us inwardly, and Himself in us asks according to the will of God”.
Now the question arises, “but how can we know the will of God?” In a general way, the answer is that God’s will is revealed to us in His Word, and so we should study the word in order that we might know better what God’s will is and how we can pray more intelligently. Our assurance of salvation (v. 13) leads to our confidence in petitioning God. When we abide in Christ and His words abides in our hearts, we will pray only according to His will, and God will then certainly hear and answer us (John 15:7). Effectual prayer is always according to the will of God!
Let us have our faith in God strengthened based on our knowledge of God’s Word and His character. Let us practice the principles of faith-filled prayer. Let us be assured that God hears all of our prayers that are in accord with His will, and says “Yes!” to every prayer He hears from us. To be effective, let us pray “according to His will” (v. 14) as we “do those things that are pleasing in His sight”.