1 John 5:13-15 (NKJV): “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
1) God is always listening
Imagine for a second the most attentive, caring, and wise person listening to you. With every word you say, you know this person is fully present with you and is patient in letting you say what you want to say. Now, imagine yourself having a conversation with a bad listener--someone you can’t even seem to get one word in without them getting distracted or trying to interject, much less care about what you are saying. We are social creatures, and interacting with other humans is usually part of this journey called life. What I’m trying to say is that if you are reading this, you have probably experienced both the good listener and the bad listener. While no one is a good listener all the time, there is a Good Listener who is always listening.
One truth we can establish about God is that He is always listening. It is written, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36 NKJV). If our idle words will be accounted for on the day of judgment, then it’s safe to presume that God also knows of every other word that we have spoken or will speak. Of course, this is God that we are talking about, so it does go without saying. Nonetheless, God knows the words we are speaking out loud and the words we say within our hearts. But, unlike the bad listener mentioned before, God is the best listener there is. With God’s mindfulness and patience toward us, however, we can easily get caught up in talking to God and not with Him. A very easy place that this can be allowed to occur is in our prayer life.
When we pray, we are accessing a power beyond our comprehension. In Jack Brutke’s words from CastTheNet’s Instagram page, “You are literally speaking to the Creator of everything, and He does hear you. How much deeper could we go in prayer, how much more faith could we have, how many more miracles would take place, if we could see prayer for what it really is!” God certainly does hear every word we say, yet not every word we speak is building our relationship with Him. Thinking back to the bad listener (who can also be considered a bad communicator if their talking is akin to their listening)--how can the relationship go to a greater depth if they are not honestly, sincerely, and compassionately contributing to it? If the bad communicator doesn’t listen or talks too much, how will the other person feel truly loved in their relationship? Thus, when we pray to God and assume the role of a bad communicator, the relationship suffers; this is why Scripture says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19 NKJV).
2) “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”
Nevertheless, even in our moments of babbling, God is gracious and patient with you and me. But, in reference to 1 John 5:14, we know God hears us if we ask anything according to His will. God is always listening, but He may not hear you--in the sense that He may not give you what you are praying for, or answer it in the way you want--if it doesn’t align with His will. To put this in perspective, praying that God would give you a million dollars and make you famous, all out of a selfish intention, is something God does not want to hear nor give to you.
1 John 5:14 is very important in light of our communication with God because it sets a standard for prayer: it is not about our will but God’s. When we commune with the Living God--wherever we may be, but especially in our solitary place--the time we spend in that communion is not meant for us to exert our will upon God. As 1 John puts it, you have a guarantee that He hears you when you align yourself with what He wants. And how do we discern what God wants in our life? By being a good listener and listening to what He says, but above all, accepting the Answer He’s already given.
We know God’s will for us because we have it in Jesus Christ--this is the greatest answer He has given us. God wants you. The Living God is so serious about conveying His message of love to us that He even bears the name Immanuel, literally translating to “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He didn’t need to or have to come down and save us from our sin, but He chose to. His message never changed, and even from the Book of Isaiah, we see the echoes of God’s love, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV).
A Powerful Testimony of Prayer and God's Love:
Even in the moments where we might be bad communicators with Him, God is still willing to be there for us and listen, simply because He adores you and me. And we see His will in this way, that God just wants us to know Him and be known by Him. Thus, when we pray and commune with the Almighty--keeping His love at the forefront--our conversation with Him will naturally change.
3) In light of God's love, our will submits to His
When we attempt to scratch the surface of the depths of God’s love, we are inevitably changed. Christ’s love moves our eyes away from ourselves and towards the Savior. And once the eyes have moved, our prayer will reflect that. We see the perfect example in Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before He was going to be crucified: “And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV). Three times Jesus prayed, and three times He said, “not My will be done, but Your will be done, Father.” Christ gave us the perfect example of what it means to submit one’s will to God’s--an awesome picture indeed: Christ, being fully God, demonstrating the true and absolute humble nature of the Creator. Jesus, knowing what was to take place--that He, being entirely holy, was to drink the cup of sin, pain, and brokenness that was entirely contrary to His being--still laid down all desire for self-preservation so that you could know Him.
It is in light of Christ’s boundless sacrifice that we should pray. We gave Christ the cup that He drank. Once again, He didn’t have to drink it, but because God’s nature is totally good, He was going to do it from eternity past--and He’d do it again for you infinite times over. Jesus has been clear about the troubles of this world, and they will come whether we want them to or not. But the troubles of this world do not have to have power over us; Christ took on all of them. Yet, even more so, Christ fought the battle at the root of all trouble--the war within our hearts. When Jesus overcame sin and death, He crushed the head of satan. The Son of Man took on depression, anxiety, fear, hurt, betrayal, lust, greed, pride, sin… all the wickedness of man--and evil lost.
When we fellowship with the Living God in this understanding--that He took upon Himself our weaknesses, failures, and darkest moments--it moves us to want to know Him more. And that is the whole point: to know God and grow in an intimate relationship with Him. Because it is in knowing God and continually growing nearer to His truth that we experience the life He meant for us to live. A life of freedom. A life of rest. A life of true power. Christ came to set the captives free. We know Paul wrote many of his letters while in prison, so clearly, we are not talking about literal physical prisons--though God can, and still does, free from those too. What God wants to free you from is, at the core of the matter, yourself. As C.S. Lewis states, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
When we serve our own will, we become our own gods--and we as humans do very well in serving the gods we make for ourselves. To break this chain, be washed by the blood of the only true God. His name is Yahweh, Jehovah, Ruach Hakódesh, El Shaddai, Immanuel, Yeshua, Jesus Christ; the Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Lord is El Shama, the God who listens; bring your heart before Him with the words of your spirit, but then, in awe and reverence of the great I AM, be sure to listen to what He says.