LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Audio Blog)
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Upon his arrival at his new post, a western journalist looked down from his apartment window to see the wailing wall in Jerusalem. For days he would see the same elderly man arrive at precise times in the morning and the afternoon. He decided he needed to meet this man. After introducing himself, he asked, “What is it that you keep coming here to pray for?” The man began his story. “I have come to this spot twice a day every day for 25 years now. In the morning I come and pray for world peace and the brotherhood of man. I go home, have tea, do some work, and then return in the afternoon to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth.” The journalist was amazed at his persistence and asked, “How does it make you feel to come here every day for 25 years and pray for those things?” He simply responded, “Like I’m talking to a wall.”
How often do we feel the same way about some of our prayers? We seem to have been praying forever for certain things – the salvation of a relative, the healing of a disease, the provision for a need, or direction for our lives. It can get discouraging sometimes, can’t it? Is God really listening?
To answer that question, let’s look at what the Apostle John says in the fifth chapter of his first epistle.
1 John 5:13-15 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 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.
Belief is the basis of all prayer. Kenneth Woodward, in an article on prayer in the March 31, 1997 issue of NEWSWEEK, wrote, “If you believe, no proof is necessary. If you don’t believe, no proof is sufficient.” Do we truly believe that God answers prayer? Consider this – the very first prayer he answers is the prayer for salvation, to which He responds with eternal life. If you believe and know that you have eternal life, then you will also believe that God hears and answers other prayers as well.
So what about all of those other prayers? Why have they not been answered? Well, for one thing, some of them may not have been heard. Whoa! Hold on there pastor. You just got done stating that if I believe then I can know that God hears all of my other prayers as well. No, I didn’t say that. I did say that He hears other prayers, but I didn’t say He hears all prayers, and neither does the Bible. John makes it clear that the only prayers God hears when we approach Him are the ones that are asked according to His will. Many of our prayers are for our own good and according to our own will, and God does not hear them. He cannot answer what He does not hear.
An old television commercial illustrates this point. A man is sitting in a manager’s office being interviewed for a job. There is a stain on his shirt. As he begins to talk about his desire for the job, the manager is distracted by the stain, as if the stain is speaking a foreign, garbled language. It is all the manager can hear. He hears nothing that the applicant is saying. I think it’s hilarious. It’s also true of our prayers. We come before God with the stain of sin called self plastered all over our prayers, and God is not listening to us.
But look at what happens when we come before Him with pure hearts and surrendered wills – He hears us. Here’s where belief is vital. John says that if we know that He hears us, we can be assured of an answer. Once we know that God hears us – because we believe that He hears any communication that involves His will, His purpose, and His glory being accomplished – we can also know that He will do what we have asked. It makes perfect sense. Let’s assume for a moment that I know in advance that someone wants to give me a million dollars. Would I approach that person with fear and doubt, or would I approach them with confidence and ask for the gift? Of course I’d leave right now and go to see that person. That is the confidence that we can have in approaching God when we ask according to His will.
So how do we know His will? We’ll take that up tomorrow. For today, check your belief system. Do you believe that it is God’s will to save sinners who repent? Do you know you have repented of your sin and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Did He grant you eternal life? Then approach God about anything else that is His will, and He will hear you and do it.