What to Ask For

1 John 5:13-15

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Dear Friends in Christ,

When I was a kid my dream car was a Dodge Viper.  I really don’t know why but I really just wanted one.  I think it was because I liked the way they looked.  Whenever my Dad asked me what type of car I wanted that was my response.  He would just kind of laugh at me because for some crazy reason he doesn’t like them.  But then he would usually bring up the fact how I didn’t and still till this day don’t know how to drive stick shift.  That’s just a minor detail.  I think it didn’t help my cause for getting a Viper that the suggested retail price was around $80,000.  Despite all that, my Dad did get me a Dodge Viper when I was a teenager.  I know that’s pretty awesome.  But sadly, it really wasn’t the Viper I really wanted.  Instead of being the real deal it was a Matchbox one.  I don’t think that would be really good at getting me from point A to point B.  I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that as I child asked for things from my parents that there was no chance I was going to receive.  Part of our human nature is asking for things we don’t need.

That type of mentality can even creep into our prayers.  We start praying prayers asking God for selfish things we really don’t need.  It might be to get that latest and greatest piece of technology; despite the one you own is only 6 months old.  Or maybe it’s praying for your favorite sport team to win the championship in their give sport.  Does God really care if you have the iWhatever number 600 or Galaxy 600?  Does it make a difference to God what team hoists the championship trophy at the end of the year?  God doesn’t care about those things.  It’s easy to pray for things like that but in our text today we get some insight in what we are to pray for.  In our text it says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  The key in those verses is that He hears us as we ask anything according to His will.

It’s easy to kind of just skip over that part and read those verses as, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”  If we take out that phrase, “according to His will” it can cause problems.  We start to think that no matter what we pray for God is going to hear us and answer our prayers in the way we want Him to.  When we do this we see prayer as a blank check signed by Jesus and therefore like a traveler’s check, which produces results on demand.  And when God doesn’t answer our prayer the way we want, it’s easy to become frustrated and angry with God.  It might even just cause just a little bit of doubt if God really cares or if God really loves us.  No matter how small that doubt is, it opens the door just a little bit for the devil and that’s all he needs.  He will take that opportunity and try to grow that doubt in you even more.  He lies by saying, “If God really loved you, He would have given you that thing you asked for.”

It’s important for us to remember that this verse isn’t just giving us free range to pray for whatever we want and expect God is going to give it to us.  Instead, it says that He hears everything that is prayed according to His will.  You might be wondering what does it even mean to pray according to His will.  There a couple of key components of praying according to His will.  The first is that God’s Word; the Scripture is the foundation upon which prayers are built.  And we need to center our prayers on God’s promises.  As keep those things in mind it will keep us guided in praying in accordance to God’s will.  The rest of my time this morning I want to take some time to look at some of the promises of God and how we can use them in our daily prayer life.

The first promise is that God is there for us when we are depressed or when we are in trouble.  All of us have experienced those emotions at one point or another.  In those times we can feel extremely isolated and that we have nobody to turn to.  But we can always turn to God.  Listen to those words of David from Psalm 9, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”  I love that first of those verses that God is our stronghold or in other words our refuge.  A place that we can take shelter when we are feeling the storms of this life.  And not only is He our refuge but He has not forgotten us.  Despite how we might feel, God is there for us and He hasn’t left our side.  In those moments of depression or trouble seek the refuge that is God in prayer.  He will give you the strength to endure that trial.

The second promise is that God takes cares of us when we are battling health problems.  I know some of you are dealing with health issues or you know somebody who is.  And that can be extremely difficult.  It can truly take a toll on you both physically and emotionally.  Once again we turn to David and what he wrote in the Psalms, “The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.”  David had experienced various health problems in his life but he would continually go back to his Lord, God for strength when he was battling illness.  That same God who sustained David is doing the same for you when you have health problems.  In those times of battles with health we can pray to God seeking Him to help heal us of what our problem is.  He hears that prayer and no matter what that outcome is, He will not leave your side and He will never forget you.  He will be with you every step of the way.

The third promise I want to look at this morning is forgiveness and salvation.  We all are in desperate need of forgiveness and salvation.  All of us our sinners and because of that we need to go to God in prayer to seek His forgiveness.  Earlier in John’s first letter he wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  God always does what is just and righteous. God is faithful to His promises and always keeps His Word.  God promised salvation through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  It’s because of that of that sacrifice our sins have been forgiven and all the unrighteousness from our sins has been washed away.

Those are just a few of the many promises that God has given to us in Scripture.  As we pray and focus on His Word and on His promises it reminds us just how big our God is!  He isn’t some God that is smaller than the problems of this world.  He is bigger than anything in this world.  Not only does it remind us of how great our God is but it takes away from the selfish things we might pray for and it changes us from the mindset of thinking that prayer is a way to manipulate God to do what we want.  It put’s the focus on what God has already done and His love for us.  Prayer is a great gift from God.  It gives us an opportunity to talk to God about what is on our hearts and minds.  And as we pray according to His will, He hears us.  Let me say that again, when we pray according to His will, He hears us!  What a great joy it is to know that our great God hears us and is there for us.