â€œAnd 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.â€ Â Â (1 John 5:14-15)
This is the classic conditional promise. Confidence in prayer is tied directly to the qualifier: â€œIfÂ we ask anything according to his will. . . .â€ It is, therefore, important that we understand â€œwhat the will of the Lord isâ€ (Ephesians 5:17).
Many surveys have verified that most people pray. All of those studies, however, note that a good portion of the prayers are directed toward an unknown â€œhigher power.â€ It may seem obvious, but the first requirement for coming under the will of God is to â€œbelieve on the name of his Son Jesus Christâ€ (1 John 3:23). Before God will respond to our â€œpetitions,â€ we must be â€œborn againâ€ (John 3:3).
Jesus was once asked what the greatest command was. His response, quoting fromÂ Deuteronomy 6, was: â€œThou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mindâ€ (Matthew 22:37). That internal and invisible love of the heart is expressed by obedience to the commandments that God has given. John records it this way: â€œThis is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievousâ€ (1 John 5:3).
Thus, a simple formula appears. If we obey what God has commanded us (starting with faith in the saving work of Christ), then we are assured that God will hear us when we pray. Once our confidence is secured, we can know that God will respond to what we desired from Him. The psalmist states the formula this way: â€œDelight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heartâ€ (Psalm 37:4). HMM III