I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. – 1 John 5:13-17
David Jackman writes:
The first characteristic of our knowing God, that relationship which is eternal life, is confidence in our approach to Him (verse 14a). This will naturally be expressed in prayer, where the mark of Christian reality is ‘boldness,’ or perhaps better ‘freedom of speech.’ Our conversation with God is to be uninhibited, open and relaxed, yet not without reverence and submission. Its manner reflects the fact that we are children of a loving heavenly Father.
John is not the only New Testament writer to highlight this quality. In Hebrews 4:16 we read that, because Jesus is our high priest, who knows our temptations and understands our weaknesses, we can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ And John has already used the term three times to teach us that as Christians we can be confident at the return of Jesus, if we continue in Him. This is because on the judgment day, the process of becoming like Jesus in this world will be completed. Moreover, in 3:21, John has related this confidence to prayer; we can pray confidently because God in His sovereignty knows us and forgives us. The teaching of Jesus on the night of His betrayal, recorded by John in chapters 14-16 of His gospel, is full of similar encouragements. These obviously became formative in John’s own prayer life and teaching on prayer. Had not the Master promised, ‘You may ask Me anything in My name, and I will do it?’ Such confidence both results from ‘believing in the name of the Son of God’ and proves the reality of that life-giving faith.
Verse 14, does, however, introduce a limitation on such confident praying; or, more accurately, it underlines and explains the restriction that the Lord Jesus Himself place on asking. It must be according to His will if He is to hear us. Within that proviso, we may ask anything. Our praying is never on a surer foundation than when it is grounded in Scripture, for here God’s will is revealed. As we pray Bible prayers, we know that God will hear and answer.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 7
Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.