Lord, let the Spirit make thy word sure in our heart. Amen.
1 John 5, 13-15. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 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 hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
It is the purpose of St. John to encourage us to believe and to pray with a trusting heart. If our hope were based on our own works, we never could be sure of our salvation; we all the time feel our imperfection, and would of necessity be all the time doubtful of reaching heaven. We would be continually asking ourselves: “Are you sufficiently pious to expect God to accept you? Do you worship God well enough to make him overlook your faults?” — Now, however, the Spirit has made it clear to us that we deserve nothing but eternal death, and that salvation by works is out of the question; but he has also taught us, thank God, that we are saved by the merit of Jesus, for his sake only, and for none other cause whatever. The Son of God has done the work and suffered death for us; his name is Jesus, and he has saved us; we have received the Son and the life, and all is finished. We do not deceive ourselves when we trust in him. Or do you think that his work also is imperfect; or that his blood is of too little value? Verily, he has fulfilled his office, and is an eternally sure foundation on which to build. God wishes us to know that we have life everlasting, and firmly to believe in the name of his Son. — It is a terrible lie, it is unbelief worthy of the devil, which rejects him who is truth and love itself! With the prayer of the heart we reach out the hand of faith after the gifts of God in Christ; and the Holy Spirit has taught John to write this, in order that we may pray in full certainty of faith. When our heart desires enlightenment, faith, forgiveness of sin, love, purity, patience, meekness; or when we pray for the extension of the church, the success of the word, and the coming of the kingdom; or when we ask God to give us daily bread and a contended mind, victory in temptations and a blessed death; in short, when we pray for anything whatsoever which Jesus has told us to pray for, or which God has commanded us to have, we ask something according to his will, and then himself is the author of the prayer in our heart. Then it is the Spirit of the Son in us which prays; and shall we, then, not receive that which we ask? It is the will of God to give it us; and he has created in us the wish to have it. He has already given us the gift in his Son; and he is now able to put us in possession of it, since we have a heart to receive it. Must not, then, our prayer have been heard?
“We have the petitions that we desired of him,” says the apostle; but God keeps them for us until the right time is come. Note this: “If we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” John is not dreaming when he says that we have them already. A prayer from the heart according to the will of God never remains unanswered. Do have confidence in the word of God!
Make our will one with thy will, gracious God. Mortify our fleshly lust, and draw our hearts to thee. Assure us of thy fatherly grace and the certainty of our heritage, and help us to pray with childlike confidence in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Yea, indeed, he bids us pray.
Promising to hear us,
E’er to be our staff and stay,
Ever to be near us.
Ere we plead, will he heed,
Strengthen, keep, defend us,
And deliv’rance send us.