And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him (I John 5:14-15).
The word confidence in the Greek literally means “the boldness of speech.” When we talk to the Lord we can be bold! We can be free, open, and honest. If we say something wrong, it doesn’t matter. God isn’t going to throw it back at us. If we say something foolish, He understands. We can pray with real boldness of speech. Praying with confidence is an exciting thing!
The boldness of speech that we have is in asking. The Scripture has encouraged us to come boldly to the throne of grace that we might receive mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). That is proper and correct. There’s nothing wrong with coming to God under pressure. I can’t help but feel that maybe God at times has created the pressure just to get us to call on Him! There’s nothing wrong with coming to God and asking. In fact, the Lord tells us to. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matthew 7:7). Again, Jesus said, “Ask, please ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
When I come to God, I can come boldly. I can ask God for my needs. I don’t have to worry that He’ll misunderstand me. I don’t have to be afraid that He’ll be rude or rough with me. I don’t have to worry that I might be asking the wrong thing.
We have this confidence in Him, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I’m so glad that qualification is there! I’m glad that this Scripture doesn’t say, “Whatever we ask we receive.” I’m very grateful that He inserted “according to His will.” Had God answered all of my prayers, I wouldn’t be here today. I would have destroyed myself a long time ago!
I have prayed for a lot of ridiculous things that would have totally ruined me. “According to His will” keeps a proper perspective between God and me. Any other way would remove the authority of God over my life. It would then mean that I was the master of my fate, the captain of my destiny. My life wouldn’t be governed by God; instead, it would be governed by me.
If I can demand that God does anything, if I can lay out demands to which God must acquiesce because I’m demanding it in Jesus’ name; or if I can just make positive confessions and start laying claims to things and, by my positive confessions, create situations and things for my life, then God is no longer in control of my life. I take control by the demands that I make upon God and by the confessions I make of these things. And God becomes the magic genie! I rub the lamp and God must come out to follow my orders.
Not so! God is far too loving for that. He loves you too much to let you run your life. When you put the “I” in run, you’ve got the true picture: you’ll ruin your life when you try to run it.
Paul tells us that we don’t always know what the will of the Lord is. That’s one of our problems in prayer. From past experience, I realize that I made so many mistakes in the analyses of my own needs that if God had answered some of those prayers, it would have been absolutely tragic!
What if I were in control? What if God were acquiescing to every confession that I made? People say, “Be careful not to make a negative confession! What you say is what you get.” That’s ridiculous!
David said, “I know one day Saul is going to kill me.” Don’t say that, David! That’s negative confession. Now it’s going to happen, because what you say is what you get! And now one day Saul is going to kill you. But Saul didn’t kill David.
I have a good friend who’s been saying for years, “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” To my knowledge he hasn’t become one yet.
“If I could have things by just making a positive confession.””If God must yield to my demands.” Do you see what that immediately does? It elevates me to the position of God and puts God in the subservient position. I’m no longer serving God, but God is serving me and my every whim.
To put God in this kind of position, as Paul declares in Romans 1:21, is to fail to glorify God as God. It doesn’t make God “God” anymore but some kind of servant who has to run around and do my will, follow my commands, and fill out my confessions. It puts me in control and God in the servant’s seat. To exalt my demands, wishes, and my will above God’s will is audacious, perverted, and insane.
Certainly, the greatest prayer any of us can ever pray is, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” That isn’t a spiritual cop-out as some people would accuse. It’s just glorifying God as God and recognizing that He’s a lot smarter than I. I may think that something is best for me, but He knows what’s best for me.
Behind every prayer I offer is an understanding with God that if I’m making a stupid request, He should please not honor it or answer it. I want God to do what’s best for me or whatever is wisest in each situation. If you accuse me of a spiritual cop-out because I pray “Thy will be done,” then you must also accuse Jesus Christ of a spiritual cop-out – because He’s the source of the prayer!
“Not my will, but Thy will be done” is the wisest prayer I can offer to God. That’s the way I always want it to be. Though I don’t always articulate it, that submission to His will is always the background of every prayer I offer to God. “God, this is what I want. This is what I think I need. But, Lord, You know what I need better than I know myself. Your will be done in my life. Your will be done in this illness. Your will be done in this financial problem. Don’t listen to me. I’ll mess it up worse than it is. You do what is best for me, God.”
A person who’s afraid to pray “Thy will be done” is a person who doesn’t truly understand or know God. If you really know God then you have no problems praying that way at all. Unfortunately, many people have a lot of false concepts of God.
Satan has done a tremendous job of lying about God and His nature. So many people think that God’s will is the most terrible thing that could ever happen to them. They think that whatever you don’t want to do is just what God will make you do when you say, “Thy will be done.” If you say, “I don’t want my nose rubbed in the dirt,” the first thing that’s going to happen is that God will rub your nose in the dirt. Oh, what a blasphemous concept of God to think that He would do some horrible, ugly thing just because you’ve submitted to His will. God’s will for our lives is so glorious and marvelous that I’m afraid to have anything less than God’s will for my life!
If God should come to me and say, “Chuck, I’ve been thinking about you lately. I’d like to do something special for you just to show you how much I love you” – what would I ask Him for? Oh, what will it be? Let’s see I might pay off the mortgage on my house. “Lord, what about twenty grand?” No. Before I get that far I’d stop and say, “Lord, just give me whatever You want.” You see, I might be thinking of twenty grand, but He might be thinking five hundred thousand! Why should I cut Him short?
God delights in giving good gifts to His children. He’s more anxious to give than we are to receive! If you can have the proper concept of God then you can, with confidence, totally cast yourself upon Him and say, “Here I am, God! It’s Your problem now! Take care of it. Whatever You want, whatever You wish. My life is Yours. You work out all the details and circumstances. I’m going to relax and let You do it!” You won’t be able to believe those things He desires to do for your life – just because He loves you! No way am I afraid to say, “Lord, Thy will be done in this situation.” That’s all I want.
We must remember that there is a limitation to our asking: “…anything according to His will.” The Scripture isn’t just a blanket promise. God has put a limitation to our asking – a blessed limitation!