Confidence In Prayer
CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
1 John 5:13-21
I think we have all prayed for something or for some situation…and what we prayed for didn’t come about…it seemed as though our prayer went unheard and did no good…and as a result our faith is shaken and we lose confidence in prayer.
- Well, John is going to deal with some of that in this passage that was read…so let’s begin in verse 13.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.
- John has been dealing with the influence of the Gnostics who had come along and were telling these Christians that Christ was good…but Christ wasn’t enough…if you really wanted to have eternal life…if you really wanted to have fellowship with God…you needed something more.
And John, here in this verse, says that the “things he has written to them about Christ and who He is”, he wrote those things so that they may “know”…and that word “know” is the Greek word “oida” which speaks of a “settled knowledge”…in other words…there is no doubt…no uncertainty…they can “know”, they can be confident that they have eternal life.
- Because of their belief that Jesus was human, the Savior, the Messiah, and Deity…and because they have been obedient to Him; not perfect but striving to “walk in the light as He is in the light“, “They can know” they have eternal life.
- And just as “they can know” we who believe in the Son of God today can also “know that we have eternal life.”
- (Unfortunately, a lot of faithful Christians are uncertain of that. I often hear a brother or sister in Christ say, “I hope I will be saved.” John says, “You can know.” )
Now, what John is going to do is he is going let us know how our awareness of our present relationship with God contributes to “confidence in prayer.”
- If you “know” you live in fellowship with God…you can be confident in your prayer.
- But if you have no fellowship with God…well there is no confidence.
- When you know you are not on good terms with God it devastates your prayer life.
But, just because God does not answer your prayer the way you think He should does not mean that your fellowship with God is broken.
But we “know we have eternal life”…therefore look at vs. 14:
And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
- Notice there where he says “we ask anything.”
- “Anything” is global…it is not limited…you have confidence to ask anything!
- “According to His will” does not diminish “anything.”
- We do not have to know what God’s will is in order to ask. In many situations we will not know what God’s will even is!
- Our list does not have to be edited according to what we think God’s will is.
- Make your list out and ask it!
And then after you ask…ask God to grant what you ask for…according to His will rather than yours.
- Develop the attitude, “Not my will but Thy will be done.”
- Ask God to exercise the right of veto…He will exercise that right anyway…but what you are doing is you are acknowledging that He is Sovereign, that He has that right to veto your request…and that it is for your good that He exercises that right.
Listen, we can pray for “anything”…but what often happens is we are motivated by selfishness; and when we don’t get our way we get upset; sometimes we turn away from God.
- We respond like a spoiled child who doesn’t get their way.
- We have faith just as long as we get what we want…but when we don’t…well I am out of here!
Remember when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane? He asked God to “let this cup pass from Me.”
- Was that prayer answered? Yes, but not the way He wanted. Did He abandon God because God didn’t answer the way He wanted?
- Instead, He said, “Not my will but Thy will be done.”
- In essence He said, “Father, edit My list!”
We can ask for anything…but then grant God the sovereign right to edit your requests.
- And when we ask God to edit our list…what we are basically saying is, “God, out of these requests that I have made, protect me from selfishness and preserve me from gifts that I cannot handle…from things I am requesting that would hurt me or someone else…or that would not best serve You.”
You know, one of the things that we often pray for is rain, “Send us rain.” So we pray for rain.
- But the farmer who is trying to harvest his wheat doesn’t need rain. So, whose prayer does God answer?
- We can’t always know what is best for someone else, perhaps even the person we are praying for.
- We can’t always know what God is trying to do.
- Leave it up to God to answer according to His divine knowledge and will.
But the point is, “according to His will” does not limit the “anything.”
- Ask for “anything” but give God the Sovereign right to veto your request; then faithfully accept it.
And look at the very last phrase of verse 14: He hears us.
- 1 Peter 3:12 says: “For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
- God hears our prayers…the only prayer of God’s people that He does not hear is the one not prayed.
Now verse 15: And if (this is not an “iffy” issue. There is no doubt here…this is a “when”) When we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
- The hearing is not doubtful…we know He hears…and we know He answers.
- But remember what we are asking God to do…we are asking God to edit our list…to take off that which would not be good for us…to take off those things that might hurt us or someone else…or that would not best serve Him.
- If we pray with that attitude…we are going to get the answer to every prayer that we ask.
- There will be no prayer that does not receive an answer from God.
Now, let’s go to verse 16. In verse 16 John gives us an example of something that we might ask for.
- Keep in mind that John is still talking about prayer.
- The discussion here is not “a sin that leads to death…or a sin that does not lead to death”…that is not the topic of discussion.
- We often get sidetracked trying to figure out what “a sin that leads to death” is and what the “sin that does not lead to death” is.
- Any sin can lead to death but John is not making a distinction in this passage about which sin does and which sin doesn’t. He doesn’t even tell us what the sin is!
- John is still discussing the confidence that we have in prayer because of the relationship we have with God.
16 If (when) anyone sees (you can see it…the characteristics are visible) his brother (this is key-this is a brother or sister in Christ) committing a sin not leading to death (God has not cut him off ) he (the one praying) shall ask and God will for (dative-“to”) him (the one who is praying) give life (not eternal life) to those who commit sin not leading to death. (God answers your prayer. The granting of life here has nothing to do with the sinning brother changing. It is given because the concerned brother asks for it.)
In this verse who is it that is “committing a sin not leading to death?” A brother.
- This is a brother who is in fellowship with God and even though he is in fellowship with God he still sins; 1:8, 10; but it is not a “sin leading to death”, not because his sin is acceptable to God; all sin is wrong.
- His sin is not a “sin leading to death” because of the direction of his walk”; 1:7.
- However, if he changes his direction of walk, he is no longer “walking in the light” and God can and will cut him off.
So, his brother sees him committing sin or living in a way that could cause him to lose fellowship with God, and he asks God to “grant the sinning brother life, not eternal life, but an extension of his life” and God grants that request, because his concerned brother asks for it.
- And what should this concerned brother do? Go to his brother committing sin and talk with him about the sin he is committing and warn him of the consequences if he continues to sin.
Let me see if I can put this in simpler terms to help you understand what John is saying.
- Let’s say you have Pete and Sam…they are brothers in Christ.
Now, let’s read this verse again with those names:
If anyone (Pete) see his brother (Sam) committing a sin not leading to death, he (Pete) shall ask and God will for(to) him (Pete) give life to those (Sam) who commit sin not leading unto death.
- The granting of life here has nothing to do with Sam changing…it is given because you ask for it.
Here is the deal…Pete is noble…and Pete sees Sam sinning…and Sam is in trouble…he is slipping away. 1 John 3:8-10.
“God, I have been watching Sam and Sam has been going places he shouldn’t and I am concerned. I do not want my brother to be lost. Please do not cut him off. I am aware that his sin is hostility toward you. I am aware that you cannot and will not tolerate the practice of sin. But please don’t cut him off. Let me work with him. Please extend his life. Please don’t cut him down but keep him alive. Let me work with him.”
- (Anytime a man is sinning a sin he is getting close to death).
Now, when Pete gets through praying what do you think he is going to do?
- He is going to go to Sam and talk to him about the danger he faces of committing sin.
This tells us something about the awesome power of prayer.
- You can get an extension of life through prayer.
This is not a verse whose main point is a discussion of “sin leading unto death.”
- We are not concerned with what specifically Sam’s sin is.
- The point is that God honors the prayer of a man who is so concerned about his brother’s and sister’ salvation that God will grant to the concerned man an extension of that brother’s life.
- God will and does answer prayer…He likes intercessory prayer.
Now, look at the end of vs. 16: There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.
Any sin can be unto death. What is important is the direction of the man’s walk when he sins.
- The individual here in vs. 16 is dead in his sin; he is not walking in the light; he has no interest in doing what God wants; and John does not prohibit prayer for this man, he simply releases the faithful brother from the obligation to pray for him.
I encourage each of you to study this for yourself; but what we do know for sure from this passage is there is power in prayer; and prayer may keep a struggling brother from being cut off.
Now, vs. 17: All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
- There is not 2 different categories of sin. Any sin can lead to death.
- What makes the difference is the direction of the walk of the sinner.
- If he or she is in Christ and they are walking in the light, the sin they commit (1:8-10) will not lead to death.
Vs. 18: We know that no one who is born of God sins;
- The word “sins” is a present infinitive and it speaks of a persons practice; something they do over and over again.
- The Gnostics said you could live a life of sin and still have a “new birth” standing with Christ and John says, “No you can’t.”
Vs. 18: …but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.
- The Gnostics didn’t think Jesus was enough. John says He is.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.
- Where did John discuss idols in this letter? All the way through.
- An idol is a human invented god and the Gnostics had plenty of them and they tried to make false gods out of Christ and God; and John says, “Do not accept their idolatry.”
- Do not accept a Jesus that is short of human, the Savior, the Messiah, and Deity.
All through this letter John is trying to encourage those in Christ to remain faithful to Christ.
- His primary concern is that they will listen to the false teachings of those who claimed to be in the know, and turn away from Christ and the salvation that is theirs.
Today, that is still his primary concern. He is, all through this letter pleading with each of us to remain faithful to Christ.
- Keep His commandments; Love one another; Walk in the light as He is in the light; Test the Spirits because there are many false prophets in the world.
- Be confident in prayer; and do not accept a Jesus that is short of being human, the Savior, the Messiah and Deity.
If you have drifted away, come home.
- If you are not in fellowship with Christ and you want to be; if you want to know what you must do we are here to teach you and assist you in that.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023