1 John 5:14-15
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, 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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Unless we are communing with God in prayer, we are missing the great intimacy of fellowship. Asking for our petitions is not the only purpose of prayer. In fact, it is not the main purpose of prayer. Prayer is fellowshipping with God and without that fellowship, it isn’t possible to pray without a selfish motive.
Do you remember the story of the prodigal son? He only looked at his father as a source of gain. It wasn’t until his stubborn demands were granted that he discovered the foolishness of his ways. It wasn’t his father’s will for his child to squander his life on the world and passing pleasures, but he allowed his son to choose to live by a self-centered standard when he demanded it. In the end, what the son thought was a blessing became a curse – not because his father’s possessions weren’t good. It became a curse in the hand of selfishness. Because he used the blessing to live for the world, he ended up bankrupt.
There are times when God will permit our demands, but it is never the will of God for us to live a self-centered life. Petitions to God are not prayers of faith if they are to fulfill my desires in this world. Righteous petitions are God focused. God never promises that he will grant every request. Quite the opposite. Look at James 4:2-3
2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
This passage goes on to warn that if we are praying for the things of the world, we are in opposition to God (See 1 John 2:15-16). The purpose of asking is not to satisfy our lusts, or gratify covetousness. In fact, to pray these things misses out on the true blessing. Our prayer is to seek His will and accomplish the Lord’s purpose. It’s as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
It’s interesting that Jesus, the standard we strive for, acknowledge that He had to die to His own will and receive the Father’s will. This is our example. I want possessions, comfort, and happiness. But there are times – many times – when my will is in conflict with God’s will. The call of discipleship is, “Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) And, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
The call of discipleship appears harsh when we are looking at it from the perspective of a temporal world. The flesh lives for here and now, and seeks only a self-centered way of life. But in reality, to live for this life alone is to trade the true treasures for the things that are passing away. If it’s passing away, it is trash. We just don’t yet realize it. “God give me what I want,” is not a prayer of faith.
A prayer of faith is to long so deeply for the will of God that we seek the things that are in His heart. It is to treasure the will of God and value His promises. The promise is, “To him that overcomes I will give power over the nations, I will grant to sit with Me on the throne, and he shall inherit all things.” Faith is believing that promise, and since this is our confidence, we are willing to forego this world knowing something better is stored up for me. Because I know the promises are sure, I am willing to say, “Not my will, but yours.”
Then I am able to pray according to His will, for I will then be seeking His ways instead of trying to acquire my desires.
When it comes to prayer, it’s vital that we center our requests around God’s will. When our hearts are seeking God’s will, our prayers will reflect this. Then I will be able to see the needs around me and pray for God to send me to fulfill His purposes, instead of looking for my kingdom on earth. Once my focus is on the heart of God, my prayers will be according to His will, and then I will have confidence that He will answer my requests.
You already have the blessing; therefore, pray for God’s will to be done in your life and in the world around you. Don’t miss the amazing privilege of being called into His perfect will. Don’t miss the honor of laboring in the works He created for you so you can be partakers of the inheritance. No longer pray according to the flesh – seek to pray in faith!