1 John 3:21-24 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
1 John 5:15-16 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
When does God answer our prayers? And when do we receive what we ask of Him? And when are we confident He has heard our requests? Many of us wonder why our prayers seem to go unanswered. Here are some insights:
"If our hearts do not condemn us.." Simply, it's almost impossible to ask for anything in faith if your conscience is defiled. Yeshua (Jesus) said, "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive;" [Mt. 21:22] If your heart is condemning you, thank God you have a conscience, and then clear it by confessing your sin and receiving forgiveness through his blood. Your capacity for faith will be restored and your prayers won't be hindered by a troubled heart.
"Keep His commandments..." John distills this advice with two simple injunctions; "Believe in the name of the Son of God", and "Love one another"... Apostle Paul beautifully re-echoes these with his word in Galatians, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love; [Gal. 5:6]. Faith is a steadfast reliance on the nature and character of Yeshua, and love is the outflow of abiding in Him. Prayers which emerge from this disposition are answered. Faith in Yeshua, and love for others form a sure foundation for answered prayers. Yeshua taught us to pray, "Thy will be done." John simply affirms that our confidence of being heard derives from asking for anything that God wants. Some people teach that God will give us anything that we want, because He loves us and has paid for all of it. But that's not what the scripture teaches. John says that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, then we know we're getting what we asked for...this could be the most important element in our prayer life.
Why do I say that? Because John's implication is that we should always pray "in the Spirit"; that if we really want to pray confidently, we should listen first; we should make sure we're abiding in Him, and are in communion with his Spirit. Praying from the place of communion will issue prayers that are inspired by the Lord himself, and are sure to be answered.
"Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God, and God in him." Any hope of effectual prayer in which we can have confidence for answers depends absolutely upon this one amazing reality. God with us: "Immanuel"... The great challenge and opportunity of the life of faith is maintaining this abiding reality. Don't waste the opportunity.