14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.
The apostle John began his exhortation on prayer with an advice on the proper attitude of prayer. He tells us of “the confidence that we have in him” when we pray. The pronoun “him” refers to “the Son of God” found at the end of the preceding verse. Hence the phrase “confidence … in him” is a reference to the full assurance of faith in Christ. Prayer in itself is an expression of our confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is this “confidence” that should characterise us when we pray? The word “confidence” in the original Greek language of the Bible is parrēsia, which indicates “freedom in speaking” or “unreservedness in speech”. It denotes the liberty of access and speech. Our prayers must indicate our faith’s absolute assurance that God has received us in Christ and therefore, it is our privilege to come before Him to ask for His help in our needs and troubles. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Hebrews 10:19-23). Hebrews 4:16 also exhorts us to boldness in prayer: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Christians’ prayers do not emerge from confidence in their own merit, but from the confidence in the merit of the Son of God whom they have believed. Christians who pray with fear and doubt belittle Christ’s atoning death, and unwittingly dishonour God by their distrust. All of God’s children must have the attitude exhorted by Paul in Ephesians 3:12 – “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
Let us also learn to pray according to His revealed will in the Scriptures. Let us not desire or pursue anything that is contrary to His will, nor vainly utter them before God. As His children, we must solely be committed to seek and do His will. If, in doing God’s will, we ask whatever we need to accomplish His will, He will provide.