A major stumbling block in the Christian walk is praying with confidence. Most of us know how to pray, but we don’t pray with confidence because either we are not sure if God will grant our prayer, or we aren’t sure we are praying for the right thing. Consequently, we take our petitions to God and nervously wait for him to move. When we don’t get what we want when we think we should get it, we lose faith. We could learn from Hannah, the mother of the prophet, Samuel, whose story is told in 1 Samuel.
In the first chapter, we learn Hannah’s story: that God had shut her womb that she was unable to have children. As the story goes, it was the custom of Hannah to travel to Jerusalem every year with her husband to offer sacrifices. During this time, her husband’s second wife would torment Hannah so grievously because she was barren, that she would weep bitterly and would neither eat nor drink. This went on every year.
During one particular visit, grieving as usual, goes to the temple to pray. In pouring out her supplication to God, she tells Him that if He would give her a son and take away her reproach, she would dedicate the boy to the Lord. After Hannah says this prayer, she leaves the temple and goes home, no more sorrowful. Scripture says,
“So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad” (1 Samuel 1:18).
Hannah believed that God would grant her petition, so she no longer fretted over it. She was confident that it would be done. Why? Because she was obedient. Remember that she and her husband went to Jerusalem faithfully each year to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Hannah was obedient, and she knew that God is faithful. So, she was confident that He would honor her obedience and grant her petition.
The apostle Paul gives another example of confidence in prayer as the fruit of obedience. In his letter to Philemon, he writes:
“Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you” (v. 21-22)
In verse 21, Paul displays confidence in Philemon’s obedience, and therefore, in verse 22 he has confidence in God’s faithfulness. He knows that Philemon is obedient and that if He prayed to God, “Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), God would honor his obedience. It was this confidence in Philemon’s obedience and in God’s faithfulness that enabled Paul to instruct Philemon to prepare a place for him to stay.
Many Christians today mistakenly misinterpret 1 John 5:14-15, to mean that if God merely hears our prayers, He will grant our petition. But they overlook Psalm 66:18, which says that if we “regard iniquity in our hearts,” God will not hear us. We must first be obedient to God, then we can have the confidence that He will answer our prayers. Scripture says,
“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
If we are obedient to the commandments of God, then we can be confident that God hears our prayers, and like Hannah, we should then rest easy and trust that He will grant our petitions in accordance with His will. A more in-depth article on praying with confidence can be found here.
The Still Man
Copyright © 2011 Anthony Keeton, The Still Man ®. All rights reserved.