I struggle to pray. Even when I do pray, I often find myself easily distracted and struggling to believe God really hears me. Feeling anxious at work, I pray and it comes out something like, “God…ugh…you know the situation…help.” Seeking the Lord’s direction for my life sometimes amounts to, “I don’t even know where to start Lord…please lead me.” Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t every prayer, but the more anxious, tired, or overwhelmed I am, the harder prayer becomes.
Because of this, the conclusion of the letter 1 John recently grabbed my attention afresh. Here the apostle recites his purpose in writing—that those who believe will know they have eternal life. The result? That we’ll know the Lord hears us when we pray, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Confidence. That the Lord hears. We have our requests. So, what does it look like to live and pray like this is true?
Interestingly, Jesus utters these same words in prayer in John 11. The setting? His friend Lazarus has died and Jesus thanks the Father that He always hears him, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” (John 11:41-42). Then Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the grave—resurrection from death to life. Confidence. That the Lord hears. Jesus has his request.
Jesus was confident his Father was listening and would hear him. Jesus knew he had his request—Lazarus resurrected to life. Jesus knew he could depend on the Father to empower him in carrying out his calling. It meant he could be bold and demonstrate his trust in God without fear. It’s too easy to look at Jesus and the way he lived his life and dismiss what he did because he’s God. But consider this: Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the dead. God the Father did. Jesus prayed. In confident dependence, Jesus asked for God to raise Lazarus. Because God hears Jesus, He did it.
Doesn’t this beg the question, what would our prayers be like if we truly believed that God the Father heard us? What if we took God at His Word in 1 John 5:14-15.
What would be different about my praying if I had Jesus’ confidence that the Father hears me?
The content of my prayers would likely change. Jesus’ prayer for Lazarus’ resurrection was to reveal the presence of the Kingdom of God in Jesus as the source of true life.
The motive of my prayers would also change. Jesus’ prayer was to glorify God by showing the Father sent him, not to show off his power to raise people from the dead.
Indeed, the shape of my life would change. Jesus prayed this way because he knew the Father always heard him. This is simply one example of the depth of Jesus’ relationship with the Father.
Confidence. That the Lord hears. We have our requests. That, John tells us, is a result of knowing we have eternal life in Him. This year, I want to live into that truth.
Question: What do you find challenging about prayer?