1 John 5:14-17 - Ask according to his will
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And this is the confidence we have toward him that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14.
After several decades of teaching and leadership in theological institutions across Africa, the time came when we heard the Lord calling us to devote our time to training the next generation of lecturers. We put together a proposal and approached various organisations without success. We got to the point where our contract was about to end, and we had no direction. We were only asking for a small amount of funding, but it seemed that no one shared the vision. Desperate, we cried out to the Lord to make his will clear to us. Previously, we had only sought the absolute minimum, but our desperation made us bold. We multiplied the amount we needed tenfold and laid it out before the Lord in tears, asking for him to provide if it was his will for us to do this work. The next day, we sent the re-worked proposal to two organisations, packed our bags, and went on a retreat while we waited for an answer. When we checked our inbox six days later, we had received positive responses from both organisations, one of which had received a donation specified for lecturer training of the exact amount we had asked for. With the doors wide open, we were able to walk forward into the Lord’s will for the next stage of our lives.
In this section John assures the church further of the benefits of the eternal life that they have received (1 John 5:13). He shows that they can confidently come before God in prayer, and he will hear their requests.
The “confidence” (v.14) stems from the fellowship with him through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have seen that this fellowship is based on cleansing and forgiveness through the atoning blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God come in the flesh.
The blessing of living in relationship with God means that the believer can come to him in prayer with full assurance that he will answer (v.15). The condition is that the prayers should be asked “according to his will.” And how can we know God’s will? Calvin answers, “God teaches by his word what he would have us to ask, and he has set over us his Spirit as our guide and ruler” (p.266).
This confidence in the Word and Spirit keeps us from doubting (James 1:6) and gives us assurance that he hears our requests (v.15). The question then remains, how should the church pray about the false teachers? John answers clearly. Intercede for them before the Father and he will give them life (v.16).
John makes a distinction between sins that lead to death and sins that do not (v.16). There is much debate about this, but we can think of it as those who are still open to the word of God and those who refuse to listen. They are the “antichrist,” who John has already exposed as those who “deny the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). Without forgiveness through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, there can be no restoration to life. Their end is death (v.16).
Thus, John repeats that all “wrongdoing” (unrighteousness) is sin but there is sin that does not close the door to repentance and restoration to life and he urges the church to pray that their opponents will graciously be restored to life and fellowship.
Let us, therefore, come before the Lord and pray according to his will, in full confidence that he will hear and answer our prayers.
Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done (Luke 22:42).
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to bring our requests to you and to intercede for the world. We thank you that we can pray in full confidence that when we ask according to your will, you hear us and answer us.
For the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
Pray with us today's prayer request:
ev. Canon Captain Richard W Mayabi (Director of Anglican Missions Africa) is travelling to the Diocese of Central Tanganyika (Tanzania) to train 1000 evangelists, July 30-August 1. Please pray for travel, stamina, organisational issues, safety, and effective training.
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