As I was doing my devotions this morning, I was reading in 1 John 5:14-15. I was reading along when I came to these verses. I had to stop and read them several times and then I had to look at the cross-references to really understand what these verses were saying.
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him."
What they do not say: It does not say that we can have whatever we want. We can't want a new car and ask for it and get it! This verse is not a get rich quick verse. It is not a verse that says that I can ask for all the hard times and situations to go away and they will. It is also not a verse that says that I can ask for perfect health and get it. (I wish that were so!) No name it and claim it (in the simplest sense).
What it does say: We can have confidence in approaching God. The word confidence means "trust, reliance, assurance" We can trust Him, rely on Him and have assurance because of Who He is. We know His character. He never changes.
We can ask anything according to His will. The word according means, "in harmony, in agreement with". A few other ways to think about this - "conforming to, in keeping with, in line with, in agreement with, or consistent with" Now, when we approach God are we asking things that fit into these above statements? Or are we asking what will make us comfortable and 'happy' no matter what God would have for us?
The next part says, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. Does that mean He only hears the prayers that are what He wants to hear? I don't think so. I think that He hears all of our prayers, even the selfish ones. He wants to know what we are thinking and what is on our hearts. However, we have to come to Him with an open and willing heart so that if we are asking for something that we are not supposed to have we will be moved by the prompting of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. It is just the same with our children. We always hear them when they are asking for something, don't we? But, if they are asking for something that would be bad for them, then we will lovingly try and guide them to a better choice.
v.15 "And if we know that he hears us -whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." This is a hard one to wrap my mind around. The reason is because I want to hear that whatever I ask, I will get. That it has nothing to do with changing my heart and wanting what God wants. I want to believe that He will change what He wants to what I want. That is not going to happen! :) If we are willing to allow God to change our hearts to conform them to what He wants us to be, then we will want what He wants and then we will ask for the things that He wants for us and then He will give them to us.
This has been an eye opening morning for me. I have been struggling with my health issues and asking God to take them away. That is what I wanted after all! But, after reading these verses, I have to ask what it is that He wants for me out of this. What is it He is trying to teach me? I am starting to want what He wants in this situation. I don't know what that is yet, but I am willing to follow Him and find out.