Praying With Confidence

Title: Praying With Confidence

Bible Book: 1 John 5 : 14-17

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Prayer, Confidence in



As we have seen, the Gospel of John was written to persuade people that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior; and to convince them to trust Him for their salvation. The First Epistle of John was written specifically to those who trust Jesus Christ for eternal life, that they might have assurance of their salvation. This is important! Otherwise, God would not have devoted so much of the New Testament to the subject. He wants lost people to come to know Jesus Christ, and He wants saved people to know that they know Him.

Doubt, fear, and anxiety are spiritually crippling - can I say that, or do I have to say spiritually challenging? That doesn’t quite capture the meaning, does it? Doubt is the opposite of faith, and the just shall live by faith. Doubt and faith are totally incompatible. God wants you to know that He knows you and you know Him (“the foundation of god standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are His (2 Tim. 2:19).

The Lord wants us to know that we know Him and that we will know Him forever - and that nothing can ever separate us from Him. Paul wrote in Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In the same chapter (verses 35-39), he was inspired to write,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Every thing in the life of every believer is always affected by faith, but I would like to address one in particular. That is prayer. The New Testament is very clear about this one thing: if you pray believing you will receive (John 15:7); but pray in doubt and do without! We are saved by grace, through the faith God gives us; we live by faith; and we pray in faith.


“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.”

A. We have Confidence in Jesus Christ.

The words, “in Him” may be rendered “before Him” or “toward Him.” The idea is of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, fellowship with him. When I was a child, or a teenager for that matter, I might have had a general idea of what my friends’ parents would do under certain circumstances, but I knew intimately what my father would do. I knew I could trust him to do exactly what he said he would do. If I handed him some money and asked him to pick up a coke for me when he stopped by the store, I knew that when he gave me my coke he would give the exact change, down to the last penney. If I tried to wave him off and tell him to keep the change, he would say, “No, it’s yours.” The change was insignificant, but his character was not. He was consistent, scrupulously consistent. I also knew that if there was ever a threat to my life, he would lay his life on the line for me. He proved that when he pulled me our of the mill pond after I disobeyed him and waded beyond the line he set for me. I just wanted to know what they meant by a “drop-off.” Now I know and I won’t ever forget.

If there was ever any question about the Lord’s Day, I knew what we would do. Many neighbors compromised, but not my father. A share cropper came to him one Saturday and said, “I know you go to church on Sunday and you don’t work on Sunday, but I don’t go to church. How about letting me take a tractor and plow out my cotton tomorrow?”

Daddy said, “I don’t work on Sunday. My land is not worked on Sunday. And my tractor doesn’t work on Sunday." He meant it. Later, when someone was cutting his soybeans, his combine broke down on Saturday. The man came by and told Daddy that he would get it repaired and finish Sunday. He lacked a few acres finishing. Daddy told him he would not have his beans cut on Sunday, and the man told him that if he left he could not return for that small amount. Daddy told him he would just have to leave it. The neighbor’s hogs enjoyed the beans that were left. But Daddy was consistent.

I have even greater faith in Jesus Christ. My father had a series of heart attacks and in time he reached the point that he could not take care of himself, not to speak of anyone else. My brother and I picked him up at a hospital in Memphis once, James went in to bring him to the car and I waited and pulled the car around to the entrance. As I got out to help him into the car, he looked at me and smiled - and then tears began flowing down his cheek. One of the strongest men I have ever known was now one of the weakest.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Heb. 13:8). Furthermore, He promises to be with us always. You see, our relationship means something to Him! He will never let us down.

I have confidence when I pray to him - at least I should. But I am going to confess something to you.

I am ashamed every time I think of my mother’s faith in Jesus and her confidence in prayer. I also confess that I may not have always shown her the proper respect when I talked with her about praying about something and she said, “Wait on the Lord.” I was young and impatient, and when I did not see Him act when I thought He should, I would try to help him out a little.

I have seen the hand of God on my life. Following a severe heart attack, I spent two weeks in ICU waiting for them to decide what to do with me. The doctors my cardiologist wanted me to see were out of town at times and two week-ends caught me with nothing to do but wait. I totally resigned myself to the Lord’s will. I enjoyed my family and friends when they could visit. Of course, if I had known they were eating at the Cracker Barrel while I was eating hospital food I might not have been so happy with them. After by-pass surgery I was released to go home and begin rehabilitation. Before too long, I rewrote my study in Philippians, UNDEFEATED: FINDING PEACE IN A WORLD FULL OF TROUBLE. I had the commentary published and gave the profits from the first printing to the church for the building fund. I remember saying that if I could trust the Lord to take care of me through all I had been through I would never fret over little things again. Now, here is my confession - I lied! I am ashamed of it, but I lied. Well, maybe I can call it something other than lying, but like Paul, what I wanted to do I did not do, and what I did not want to do I found myself doing it again. I am ashamed of it, but I still fret over the little things.

Considering my side of our relationship, Jesus would be totally justified if he never did anything for me. I do not deserve it. I am sorry, but I just keep on falling short of His glory, and His plan and purpose for my life. I have failed Him - but, HE HAS NEVER FAILED ME. And He never will. Such is the confidence in Him.

B. If We Ask Anything According to His Will, He Hears Us.

1. We must ask.

Did you hear those words? Did you read them with me? All we have to do is ask. Wow! That says a lot. Furthermore, He says, “Trust Me.” I have confidence in Him. He will do what He says. We are told that we may ask for anything. Now, I have confidence in Jesus, but let me ask you some serious questions,

1) Have you ever asked for something that you did not receive? Me too.

2) Have you ever asked and things got worse? Me too.

3) Have you ever prayed for something without confidence you would receive it? Me too.

4) Does this make you happy? Me neither.

5) Did you blame God? I did not, and do not - and hope you do not.

6) Can you explain this? Possibly.

7) Is there an answer? Absolutely. That answer is in the character, nature, and sovereignty of God.

8) Can I prove that? I believe the Scripture proves it, and I have confidence in Him.

I never received everything I asked from my earthly father. In fact, I failed so many times that I decided Daddy loved James more than me - or maybe it was that he was only four years old and did not pester him as much as I did. One day I was determined to have a nickel when the rolling store came by but I doubted that Daddy would give me one - or another one. So, I coached James and got him to ask Daddy for a nickel. He went in and said, “Daddy, Johnny wants a nickel.” Dumb little brothers! I would have traded him in for a puppy along about then. Once again, I coached him and had him practice. “Don’t say ‘I’ want a nickel, say ‘you’ want a nickel.” Then I hid and listened, waiting expectantly as he approached Daddy. Was I in for a shock. He announced, “Daddy, YOU want a nickel!”

I discovered in time that my earthly father gave me certain things and withheld certain things - or even delayed responding because he was more concerned about the development of my character than in meeting all my temporal desires.

2. We must ask that which is in accordance with His will.

Wait a minute, are we saying that the sovereign God is going to do what He wants to anyway, and if we happen to request something He is already planning to do He will answer our prayer but if it is not what He is planning to do it we can forget it? Well, yes - and no. There were many times in the Bible when God stated his purpose but when someone came to Him in prayer, he changed His plans. He announced that he would wipe out Israel in the wilderness and start over with Moses. Moses interceded and the Lord relented.

God sent Jonah tell the people of Ninevah that He was going to destroy that wicked city because of their wickedness. but when they repented He changed His mind. Obviously, His plans were conditioned on their response, or lack of a response.

There were times when God announced His plans and stated in no uncertain terms that He would not change His mind. He gave Israel, the Northern Ten Tribes, every opportunity to repent, warning them through Amos and Hosea repeatedly. Finally, He announced that He was sick of their music (wonder what He thinks about some we hear today?), nauseated by their sacrifices (which were intended to be a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God), and offended by their prayers. “Therefore,” He said, “Prepare to meet thy God.” They met him in the Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis some time around 734 B.C. when Assyria defeated the combined forces of Israel and Syria. Then in 722 B.C. Sargon II invaded Israel and took away captives who were scattered among the nations. He then brought in foreigners and settled them in Israel. In time there was an amalgamation or intermarriage, which produced the Samaritans of Jesus’ day. By the way, for those who see the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans as racial, they were all Semitic people. Their contention was religious. A Hebrew scholar and former missionary to Israel told me that if you had dressed the Samaritan and the Jew alike and stood them side by side you could not have told them apart. But the main point is that the Lord reached the point that He said that it was too late for them to call on Him.

In the Southern Kingdom, made up of Judah and Benjamin, Isaiah and Micah delivered the “Thus saith the word of the Lord,” announcing that God would use Assyria to judge Judah if the people did not repent and follow Him. However, if they did not repent they would not be taken captive by Assyria. When Assyria had served His purpose he would break their power as one snaps a twig between his fingers. He would raise up Babylon and use them to judge Judah and take them into captivity in Babylon. They would be there seventy years, one year for each Sabbath Year they had refused to observe. The land would lie fallow for seventy years.

God used King Josiah to try to bring about a revival, but after he was killed by Pharaoh Necho on the Plains of Megiddo in 608 B.C., the revival ended and the people once again rejected the true God for idols. He spoke through Jeremiah , indicting the people for two sins: “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). They had rejected God and they had chosen idols, but they would be purged of idolatry once and for all through the Captivity.

The captivity might have been avoided if the people had just repented. Whey didn’t they? Do you supposed it was for the same reason that people kept calling America a Christian nation fifty years after it entered the Post-Christian era? That was in 1935, if we can believe Francis Shaeffer? Some rebelled and others drifted with them. But the offense was so serious that the Lord said to Jeremiah, “ As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you” (Jer. 7:16). This was in the great Temple Sermon when he told them to stop trusting in the Temple for their security - the loved the Temple but despised the Lord of the Temple. There is more: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go!” (Jer. 15:1). Moses and Samuel were know as great intercessors.

I have heard people say that God answers all prayer, that He either says yes or no. Some have said that He might say, “I will respond, but in My own way.” In Jeremiah, we find that there may be times when he simply will not recognize what we are doing as praying. He does not respond do pride, arrogance, hypocrisy, or that which is of the flesh.

This is really serious. We need the Lord and we need to pray, but if we do not pray as we should we cannot expect anything from Him. We must come before Him in faith. Have you ever prayed wishing instead of believing? Of course you have! And so have I. We must repent and pray that he will teach us, guide us, and empower us to pray as we should.

I am confident that the Lord answers our prayers when we pray believing, and when we ask that which is in accordance with his will. There is one other thing we must bear in mind, and that is that the purpose in prayer is not to change God but to change us. If my purpose is to bend God’s will to suit my purpose I cannot expect a response from Him. If my purpose is to submit to Him in such a way that He can mold me into the person He wants me to be, then we can expect a response from Him.


“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.”

A. If We See a Brother Commit a Sin We Must Pray for Him, 5:16.

1. There is a sin that leads to death.

It is possible for believers to sin to the point where physical death results as the judgment of God (1 Cor. 11:30). The believer who gets involved in certain sins may be in danger without realizing it, and we need to be very careful in announcing that the Lord has taken the life of another person because of some sin. God knows, and He is the Author of this Scripture. I would certainly pray that the Lord would take me home before allowing me to dishonor His holy name and His holy kingdom.

2. There is sin that does not lead to death.

There is a lot of speculation as to what is a sin unto death and what is not a sin unto death. That distinction was made in rabbinical teachings, but there is no common agreement today on what John has in mind. Perhaps these notes from the Believer’s Study Bible will help:

“The enigmatic reference to "sin leading to death" has generated numerous explanations. One view argues that this phrase describes sin which results in physical death. Another interpretation suggests that "sin leading to death" refers to the actions of the false teachers -- individuals who had been exposed to the gospel and openly rejected it. While "sin leading to death" refers to the actions of these heretics, "sin not leading to death" describes sins committed by believers -- sins which do not indicate that forgiveness is no longer possible. Consequently, this verse distinguishes between prayer for believers and for unbelievers (cf. John 17:9). As the author discusses answered prayer (vv. 14-17), he explains the effectiveness of prayer offered for other believers (whose sin is "not leading to death"). However, he makes no such guarantee concerning intercession for non-Christians (whose sin is "leading to death") [BSB].

3. We must pray for those who lapse into sin.

We can leave the application of this verse to the Lord. We must pray for one another, especially when one is in sin. Pray for them as soon as you recognize a problem, which may be when they begin to miss worship service, Sunday School, or when we see a change in their attitude.

B. We Must Continue to Pray for One Another, 5:17.

1. All unrighteousness is sin.

All have sinned (past tense) and come short of the glory of God (present tense). John tells us that all unrighteousness is sin, and Paul assures us that means us. We all sin, so we need to repent. In 1 John 1:9, we are instructed: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must confess our sins, and we must pray for others who lapse into sin.

2. There is sin not leading to death.

We do not have to understand all the implications of this verse to understand that sin is serious, and God will deal with it in a serious manner. If the lost person does not repent, He will spend his eternity in hell. America has been watching news reports of a wild fires have swept over more than 700,000 thousand acres of forests in California, destroying hundreds of homes, and killing at least twenty people. Flames ascending mountains preheat areas and make the fuel more combustible. Fire fighters say there is nothing man can do to stop these fires, they will burn until they consume the available fuel - trees, bushes, houses, cars, businesses - every thing in the path of these fires.

One word comes to mind when I watch on television as those flames, sometimes one hundred feet flames, roar through a community. That word is inferno. When I observe those flames I cannot help but wonder if people stop to think how much this fire can be used as a metaphor of hell. Hell will be so much greater, and those in hell will suffer conscious eternal torment - no death will relieve their suffering. An old friend, Harold Bryson, once wrote a book which he titled, YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A HELL. Perhaps it is time to return to an emphasis on the certain reward of the lost person. We know for sure that his sins will lead to eternal death.


God deals with His children as a loving Father, but he does deal with sin. His holiness demands action against all unrighteousness. If we know Jesus as Savior, His blood has covered our sins, and we have been justified. After that, God will chastise us when we sin and do not repent, but He deals with us as a loving Father, not simply a judge. He is sovereign and he will deal with each person as He chooses. You may not have committed a sin that leads to physical death, but you and I commit sins for which we need to repent today.

We also need to make a commitment to pray for our friends and family members who have lapsed into sin. Let me urge you to make a commitment to pray as you have never prayed before, interceding for both lost people and believers who are not faithful to the Lord. Pray without ceasing.
Samuel was asked by the Israelites to pray for them. His response was, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you.” We are urged to pray for one another, as well as for our own needs, and I have confidence that if we ask in faith, God will bless us beyond measure, and beyond our expectations. As a matter of fact, I discovered one day that the Lord often acts before I pray, He knows what I need before i do. That is another reason that we should have confidence in Him.

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