“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 John 5:14-15
When reading the Bible it’s very important to pay attention to what the verses are actually saying. I know some people who’ve read our focus text and come away with the idea that it’s saying that God will give us whatever we ask for but that’s not what it’s saying.
If you carefully read verse fourteen you’ll notice that it says that we’re to be making requests that are according to God’s will and that if we do this he’ll hear us. Verse fifteen continues the flow by saying that if he hears us then we know that he will give us what we ask for. But it all begins with us asking for what God is already desiring to give us.
So how do you know what God wants to give you?
First, you need to be in a relationship with him. Nearly all of John’s letter is written to people who’ve already accepted a relationship with God. It’s not really possible to do the rest of what’s required to know God’s will if you’re not focused on being with him. A big part of our being with God is learning about him and listening to him in his word. We may not get instructions specific to our needs or requests but we will know Him, his values, and how he works better and this will help us evaluate whether or not the messages we’re getting are from God or another source.
Second, when you pray you need to take the time to listen. Too many times we unload the prayer list and when we’re done talking we’re done praying. But praying is a conversation with God so if you’re going to know his will you need to take the time to listen. How much time? As much as it takes. The Bible records that Nehemiah prayed for more than four months before he heard God’s answer; which leads us to our next requirement.
Third, be patient until you’ve heard and know that the voice you’ve heard in your heart is God’s. Sometimes what we want screams over the top of God’s quiet voice. Sometimes the needs of others trumpets loudly confusing the messages God is sending. Prayerfully take the time for God to quiet the noisy sea of your mind so that in the peace you can clearly hear his voice. And remember, God may not answer immediately. Be patient and keep listening.
We could probably list other criteria for knowing God’s will but those are the big three.
What I find reassuring about the process of knowing God’s will is that he’s not trying to keep secrets from us. He does, at times, withhold information that’s not good for us and sometimes he uses our needs to develop strengths in us that fulfilling our wants could never accomplish but he’s never hiding from us. He wants us to know him, he wants us to know his will for us, and he wants us to become like him. Knowing that ought to give us confidence that he will reveal his will to us.