Praying with confidence

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him. (1Jo 5:13–5)

Salvation through the name

There are two key words in v13: 'name' and 'know' (Greek to understand, to realize). God wants us to know, understand and realize that we have eternal life through belief in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.

John's letters continue in the theme of his Gospel. In his Gospel he wrote:

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (Joh 20:31)

Both of those verses speak about having eternal life through the name of Jesus. But how can we have eternal life through his name? We have it because his name represents his person. Act 10:43 says:

'…everyone who believes in him [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'

The name represents the person who hung and died on the cross for our sins, and through whom we have forgiveness. God wants us to know, to understand and to realize that those who believe in the name of his Son have (at this very moment) eternal life through his name. As Act 4:12 says:

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Praying according to God's will

The key word in v14 is 'confidence' which means reliance or certainty. This is something we can rely on and be certain of. What can we rely on and be certain of? That if we ask anything according to God's will we will receive what we ask for. That is a wonderful promise and means that if we pray according to his will our prayers will be answered. God is saying:

'This is the confidence, this is the certainty you have when you approach me in prayer: that if you ask anything according to my will I will hear you. And if you know that I have heard you—whatever you have asked for—then you know, you can be certain, that you will receive it.'

Having heard God speak to us, let's take this truth and apply it to our lives. God's will is revealed in his Word; we need to read his Word until we become certain of his will. Once we are certain of his will we can pray with confidence, knowing that our prayers will be answered. Let's look at two examples.

Praying for healing

One of the main problems Christians have in praying for healing is that they are not sure it is God's will to heal them. But, in respect to healing, he has made his will abundantly clear:

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases [the Hebrew word comes from a word meaning to be ill; to be afflicted with a disease]…. (Psa 103:2–3)

The God who forgives all of my sins, also heals all of my diseases, illnesses and bodily ailments. And the word 'all' means all. We don't doubt that God forgives all of our sins, so why should we doubt that he heals all of our diseases—he says so in the same sentence, and tells us not to forget the benefits of knowing him.

God not only heals us spiritually, but also physically. Jesus went around healing every disease and illness among the people (Mat 4:23–4). There was no disease or illness he could not, or would not, heal (Mat 8:2–3); he even raised the dead (Luk 7:11–5).

He healed everyone who came to him in faith, and he is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). So when I pray for physical healing I pray with confidence, knowing that my prayers will be answered, because I am praying in his will.

Praying for sinners to be saved

Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1Ti 1:15), so when we pray for sinners to be saved we are praying in the will of God. Paul prayed that King Agrippa and all who were listening to him, would become what he was (a Christian), except for his chains (Act 26:28–9).

Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.' (Luk 11:2)

The kingdom of God is the spiritual kingdom in which those who have eternal life dwell. Jesus said that no one can enter that kingdom unless they are born of water (symbolizing repentance; Mat 3:11) and the Spirit. They must be born again (Joh 3:5,7). So when we pray for God's kingdom to come, we are praying for sinners to be saved.

Everyone needs to hear the gospel and people are being born into the world every second of every day. However, evangelists and ministers of the Word, having completed their work, are leaving this earth and going to their reward. That means that the following words of Jesus are relevant to every generation:

Then he [Jesus] said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.' (Mat 9:37–8)

When we ask God to raise up and send out workers into his harvest field (the world) to bring his elect into his kingdom, we are praying in accordance with his will, and we know that our prayers will be answered.


Once we have discovered God's will on any subject, we should pray in that will with complete confidence, knowing that every prayer is being answered by our Father in heaven and is having an effect somewhere on earth.

We may not see the answers with our own eyes—they may not even be answered in our lifetime—but we know that they will be answered, because God has promised to answer them. Brethren, let us pray!

Michael Graham
November 2001
Revised April 2019

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised edition). Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved.

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