Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 5:14
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” – 1 John 5:14
John here is finalizing his first letter to the church. According to I. Howard Marshall, author of the New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistles of John, there was a crisis in the church whereby teachers within the church were advocating a new understanding of Christianity which did not agree with the idea John and his colleagues were teaching. Throughout the book, John is showing them the truth as opposed to what they taught. We see this in chapter 2. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:18-19. He called those who taught wrong teachings antichrists, strong language but true if they taught a different gospel then Jesus presented. So, many left and went out pushing their beliefs.
Now, in the final section of this letter, he lays out why He wrote it. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13. It appears that one of the main teachings of the false teachers countered the idea of eternal life. Note the phrase so that you may know that you have eternal life. John wanted them to fully understand that eternal life was promised to those who believe Jesus, who He was and what He taught. And based on our focus verse, because of their belief in Jesus they have confidence that if they ask anything, according to His will, that He hears them.
Now, a very important phrase is found here that many either do not see or they ignore; “according to His will.” It is not saying that anything we ask for will be heard, only those things that fall under His will. This is a very important concept, because note the next verse. “And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5:15. And if He hears us, then we shall have what we ask for. Therefore, the great promise to believers is that if we pray to God, according to and within the scope of His will, then we can be assured what we ask for is ours.
Now, one last point of clarification. There are two ways to ask outside of His will. The first is to ask for something that we know is not His will. That would encompass such things as asking for something we know is wrong or sinful, or something that is not intrinsically wrong, but asking would be wrong for us, such as asking for something that may have a negative effect on ours or someone else’s life, such as if we win, someone else loses. Remember what Paul said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;“ Philippians 2:3.
The other way to ask outside of His will is to ask for something that is not what God has in mind. He has a better plan. The basic idea is that we may ask for something, but God has something better for us. For instance, we may ask Him to give us a ministry position at the church we attend, but He wants us to minister overseas. This requires trust from us. If we ask Him for something and He does not provide that specific thing, then we must understand it was not His will for us, He has another plan. And we must be content when what we ask for does not come to pass. God knows better, and we should learn to be content no matter which way it goes.
Trust God that, because He knows the end from the beginning, that He understands who we are better than we know ourselves, and that He has been preparing us for His work even though we do not recognize all that He has done, He knows best, therefore rest in this truth.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.