Gospel-centred Prayer – 1 John 5:14-15

After doing a year of expository preaching on the Gospel of Mark, we will now be focusing on a series of topical preaching called ‘Gospel Renewal’. What I mean by the word Gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the redemption of mankind.

We’re using the word Renewal because even though we hear and use the word Gospel often times in our verbiage we still fail to understand the depth of it and for the most part we don’t know how to apply the Gospel in our daily life and live for the Gospel.

Therefore, the aim of this series is to learn how the Gospel changes and impacts everything we do, that anything and everything we do is only a response to God’s love and grace that He has shown us in Christ. The ultimate goal is to glorify God.

Today’s topic is going to be on the subject of GOSPEL PRAYER. The passage I chose to study and preach is 1 John 5:14-15.

To give you a bit of a context, John is writing this letter to the believers in the Church of Ephesus.

After giving a long list of instruction to the church on the doctrine of Christ, Obedient living & Devotion, John is almost concluding his talk, and in chapter 5:14-15 he says

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 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.

Last Sunday Jeff reminded us that our primary call is to be with Jesus. That, before we are called to do anything for Jesus, we are called to be with Him and abide in Him.

And it is through prayer and devotion that we get  to be with Christ and to enjoy Intimacy with Him.

Brothers & sisters, Prayer is the most important spiritual discipline for every Christian.

But, have you wondered why our Prayer life becomes the most neglected spiritual discipline of all? That’s because, our prayer life is the prime target of the enemy and he will do anything to distract us from approaching God in prayer.

Last week while Jeff and I were in Taiwan going through the City to city Church planter intensive training, one of the topic that really blessed me was the topic on prayer by a pastor called Jon Hori.

One of his statement that stood out for me was when he said “I’m not worried when I hear that the church isn’t growing even though the people are genuinely praying, I’m worried when I hear that the church is rapidly growing but people aren’t praying”

This is what it implies – Any growth in our lives, whether in church, at work, in college, in finances that isn’t grounded in prayer is a dangerous endeavour.

It’s a dangerous endeavour because it will damage our faith and (leads us into misery / leave us feeling hopeless and miserable). Without prayer, we will drift away from God’s plan and purpose and end up in a place where we were never intended to be.

It will damage our faith because when we apply worldly wisdom to achieve things on our own strength, we will end up disregarding God and take pride in our own achievements and abilities instead of giving glory to God. We will stop believing in the Gospel and lose faith in Christ.

If you are convinced that prayer is most important to us, let us now look at how we need to prayer. As we look into today’s passage, I want to talk about the essentials (Saar) of prayer and the methods of praying.

In the passage as John is encouraging the people to pray he is saying two things that I believe is most essential when we think about prayer.

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 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. Our prayer needs to be rooted in Christ, with confidence in Him and His finished work on the cross.

What I mean by that is when we go to God in prayer we don’t go with a self-righteous and prideful heart like the Pharisee in Luke 18 who goes to the temple and prays ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Have you noticed, often times we fail to go to God in prayer because we think we’ve failed to live a perfect and obedient life, one that is pleasing to God, and that God is not interested in me or in my prayer unless I do it right.

Brothers & sisters, God knows our heart, he knows our struggles, he knows our failures, he knows our short comings, he knows the repetitive sinful tendencies we struggle with. And yet he does not expect us to fix all that and then approach Him in prayer.

Rather, he desires that we go to Him as we are, sinful & broken like the Tax collector who stood at a distance, with His eyes on the ground, beating his breast and praying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

What Jesus accomplished for us on the cross is far greater than what we can ever imagine.

In 1 John chapter 1, John writes

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we go to God in prayer with the attitude of ‘I am right & have no sin, therefore God hears me’ then we deceive ourselves. No matter how hard we try, we can never match up to the standard of God’s holiness.

Rather when we go to God in prayer and confess our sins, then he is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let’s not forget brothers and sisters that once we were alienated from God, we were his enemies because of our evil behaviour. But Christ came to this world, lived among us, lived the righteous life we were supposed to live, and through his death on the cross he absorbed the wrath of God that was upon us and presented us holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

This is our identity in Christ, and this is the confidence in which we approach God in prayer.

2. The second thing we learn about prayer from this passage is that we ask according to his will and not ours.

Often times, this aspect of prayer messes up with our pride, our self-gratifying nature & our dreams & desires, Isn’t it?

The reason it messes up is because often times we think we know what is better for us. But in doing so we fail to realise the ultimate goal of God in this universe He created us for himself and for His pleasure. We forget that ultimately He is in control  of everything and calls the shots on us.

No matter how many dreams and desires you have for yourself. If they are not as per God’s will for your life and it they don’t serve his ultimate goal, then what you are chasing after will never satisfy you.

And therefore, to be in the perfect will of God should be the ultimate goal of our life. Nothing else in life can satisfy our inmost cravings and longings – not wealth, pleasure, comfort or people.

Even Jesus, while teaching about prayer in Matthew 6 teaches us to primarily pray for God’s kingdom and Gods will to be done in our lives.

What John is saying is that whatever you ask, if it is the will of God for your life, He will provide.

So, how do we pray in a way that we seek His will.

James 4:13-15:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Seeking for God’s will as we pray is the right thing to do.

I hope I’ve initiated a spark in to your heart to revive your prayer life. Please don’t let it go off, rather flame it to fire and live for God.

The other thing I wanted to share is our prayer postures. Often times we think of only one or two ways in which to approach God in prayer. But let me conclude by suggesting a couple of more prayer postures or methods that has personally benefited me.

Prayer Postures:

  • Quite time behind the doors
  • Prayer Journalizing Eg. King David
  • Prayer Cards
  • Walk & Talk
  • Family devotions
  • Community prayer

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

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