– Understanding the Prayer of Faith –

Paul J. Bucknell

This is part '3/5' to a study entitled 'Three Keys to Effective Prayer' on 1 John 5:14-15. This article explains the first key to effective prayer, "Ask for anthing!" from 1 John 5:14.

Ask for Anything!

1 John 5:14

If we ask anything "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14).

John presents three key thoughts to effective prayer in 1 John 5:14-15. We need to (1) ask in prayer, (2) pray according to His will and (3) pray in faith. I believe they are similar to what Jesus says about prayer: We must ask, seek, then knock. Jesus said in Luke, “And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). These words help clearly capture the thoughts that John is presenting.

ASK: If we ask anything: Why ask at all?

SEEK: according to His will: What should we ask for?

KNOCK: If we know that we have the requests which we have asked: How should then properly ask for them?

 ‘Ask anything’  (1 John 5:14b)

John says that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” John is only writing what Jesus had said about this very issue three times in the Gospel of John. Let’s look at Jesus' statements.

·          And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).

·          If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).

·          Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full (John 16:24).

What do you find from Jesus’ words?

“Whatever you ask?”
“Ask whatever you wish?”
“Ask, and you will receive.”

Does God seem to be some Askmean ogre? Certainly not. So either Jesus is crazy saying such things to His disciples and John a liar for telling Christians the message, or they are knowledgeable, and we had better learn from them. You can look at this from another perspective. Who is it that can heal the lame and make the sick well? They can. So obviously they have learned something we ought to learn, especially because John emphasizes that it is every Christian’s responsibility and duty to exercise it.

One can look at this from another perspective. Who is it that can heal the lame and make the sick well? They can. So obviously they have learned something we ought to learn, especially because John emphasizes that it is every Christian’s responsibility and duty to exercise it.

Jesus simple tells us that many of us don’t receive because we don’t ask. Notice Jesus’ last verse, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full” (John 16:24). Up to now they have asked for nothing in Christ’s name. Jesus simply says that they ought to ask!  “Ask and you will receive!” It couldn't get more straightforward.

I believe Jesus repeatedly says this because many people are poor. They do not know about asking for things. They get used to not having things. It is not their place in life. Not their caste. Or they have grown up in a family where the father has made it very clear that he does not want to be asked anything. When he comes home, he just wants peace and quiet. Our Lord is not like this. He cares for us. He is waiting for you to start asking Him for things.

Application: Do you ask? Why do you ask? When do you ask? Do you pray for people to become converted? Why don’t you pray that God would revive us? Jesus is not afraid of being misunderstood. His cautions are so few. Why aren’t we asking for those great and wonderful things? Why not pray that the worrisome find peace, the sick healed, the depressed have joy? We are just not looking at life rightly in many cases.

Are you asking?

Here we have an open account from which we can ask for anything. The fact is that we all can have all. But the key is that only those who ask receive. So you might have grown up on a church. You became a Christian early on but just consider it the way life is, nothing special. In fact, every moment is special–almost magical– in that we can ask anything and receive it.

I believe that our reward in heaven is greatly determined on what we have asked and received. This is because it is related to what you believe and wanted. Let me give you three scenarios.

3 Kinds of Prayer#1 The ‘Caught’ Prayer: The Christian hardly ever prays. He prays when he has to, that is, when the Sunday School teacher calls on him to pray. For him, prayer is for others.

#2 The Crisis Prayer: The Christian sometimes prays. He prays when it hurts, that is, when he goes through crisis times. A big exam is coming up. He remembers he can pray. “May as well” he thinks to himself. He gets sick. He is thinking of getting married. He wants to sell his home. The church needs a new building. He has learned to pray.

#3 The Caring Prayer: The caring Christian prays to make God’s will happen here on earth. Sure he might pray for his personal needs, but his or her burden really is to bring people to the Lord, make sure everyone is discipled, to have relationships reconciled, to help those who are hurt.

Each of these individuals is a child of God but the way they view life is so different. #1 Christian hasn’t learned the importance of prayer. He really doesn’t pray unless pushed into it when asked by another. The only difference with #2 Christian is that he is pushed into prayer by troubling circumstances. They have the same resources as #3 Christian but live totally bluffed by the evil one.

Can you see why the evil one preys on Christians? If a Christian doesn’t pray because of sin, an unforgiving heart, dullness, attractions for the world, then that Christian has no desire to pray. They are not seeking God’s will. Right after a person becomes a Christian or a person makes a special commitment to know God more, he will be tested. Satan doesn’t want any of us praying. He wants to strip us of our ability to ask that God’s will be done and is done.

Let’s look at it from the other side of things. From my mixing with most Christians, only a few Christians really know about prayer-they are #3 type of Christians. This is not true because someone is a pastor. Many pastors are comfortable with what they have. They are not seeking God’s will. It is not because someone has been blessed. I have seen Christians have wonderful answers to prayer but somehow forget it all in the busyness of life. What a shame that they have a way to bring great change to the world but get buried in their own lives on earth.

The difference in the one who sees great things happen is not full-time ministry or a big position in the church but in the way he or she prays. For literally any Christian who starts asking in faith, will see great things happen in his or her life. And frankly, even if we cannot see the answers to our prayers, still it will be granted.

The world is pictured as darkness. People will cheat, steal and lie to get ahead. Getting a new job? You will face job politics. Looking for a guy? Be careful. Most of them are just trying to satisfy their own needs. They have not learned anything about caring for other people. The world is dark. John says in John 1 that Christ is the light of the world. We see great things happening through His life. But then He went to heaven. Where does that leave the earth? Well, you see, He created a people that love Him and seek God’s will. Now in Matthew Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.”

Only as much as Christians pray in accordance with God’s will, will one see great and wonderful things happen. Nothing is stopping our church or any church from being a transforming church. God answered prayer very visibly this year when we got our church building. God was teaching us to pray. But if we only want a building to become comfortable, then we will join the rest of the churches who have millions in the bank and watch people suffer.

Our church can be an instrument on bringing a renewal to our city, even to the world. Our church can be poor or rich. It doesn’t matter. We might have younger or older Christians. The key is not our outside positions but our fervency in seeking His will. For when you want God’s will to happen, you seek Him in prayer to get those things to happen.

Why do you want a good marriage? Why do you want a nice house? Why do you want a good job? Most of our lives are caught in the snare of the world. We want what they want. But what a shame. Satan has dumbed us down. I believe Jesus repeatedly tells us about the power of prayer because it is so significant both in Satan’s battle to blind us to the truth and God’s desire to do great and mighty things through our lives and prayers. Let me be a bit more practical.

Next=> 2. Seek according to God's Will (1 John 5:14)

Three Keys to Effective Prayer (1 John 5:14-15)

Introduction to 1 John 5:14-15
Qualifications for Prayer
1. Ask for Anything (1 John 5:14)
2. Seek according to God's Will (1 John 5:14)
3. Knock Until He Hears (1 John 5:15) 
Study Questions on 1 John 5:14-15

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

Rev. Paul J. Bucknell