Listen to sermons at




Sermon #48 — 1st John Series


            Title:                           Prayer


      Text:                                  1 John 5:1317

            Subject:                     Prayer

      Date:                                Tuesday Evening—November 5, 2013

      Recording#         1st John #48

      Readings:                       Cody Henson and Merle Hart



I am often reluctant to preach on some subjects, because I have not personally experienced them as I would desire. And it would do you no good for me to simply give you a doctrinal recitation. Prayer is one of those subjects. When I come to speak to you about prayer, I feel shamefully unprepared. But it is a subject about which the Lord is teaching me some things. And I want to share them with you. My subject tonight is Prayer.


What is prayer? When and how are we to pray? Do we have any reason to expect God to hear our prayers? I hope that the Lord will enable me to answer those questions for you in a practical way. I am not going to give you any set formulas for prayer. Nor will I try to establish a certain time for you to pray. The Pharisee made long prayers with a definite formula and in a formal posture. He prayed long, prayed frequently, and prayed publicly. But God did not hear him. Whereas, the poor publican offered to God but one, short, humble prayer, trusting in the merits of Christ; and the God of all grace heard that publican.


Prayer Defined


It is very difficult to give a definition of true prayer. It has been called the breath of a new born soul. It is characterized by confession, faith, intercession, request, and praise. But all of these things come short. Perhaps I can best describe it by first pointing out some mistaken notions about prayer.

·      Prayer is much more than a mere ritual performed at given times.

·      Prayer is much more than simply asking and receiving.

·      Prayer is much more than just filling in the amount of a blank check from heaven.


True prayer might be defined in this way. — It is the believing, submissive heart worshipping God and seeking his will. Prayer is an act not of the body, but of the heart. Prayer is an act; but it is much more than an act. — It is a spirit of faith, confidence, and submission.


John’s Three Goals


In our text John seems to have three specific goals in mind. He wants to accomplish three distinct things. He is writing to believers, to men and women who are children of God.


1.    The first thing he wants for every child of God is that we may have the full assurance of faith (v. 13).


1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.


2.    The second thing John wants for us is that we may be confident that our prayers are heard, accepted, and answered by our heavenly Father (v. 14). John wants us first to know that we are the children of God. Then he wants us to know that God hears our prayers. These two things always go together. Unless, I am assured of my saving interest in Christ, I cannot be confident that God will hear my prayers.


1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us.


3.    The third thing that the Apostle wants for us is that we may know the effectual power of prayer (v. 15).


1 John 5:15 And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.


Proposition: This is the thing that I want you to see this evening. — Our Father in heaven both hears and answers the prayers of His children.


Divisions: Now, as we look at this subject I want to give you just three statements and explain them from these verses.

  1. All true prayer is heard of God (v. 14).
  2. Whenever we truly pray, we have that which we desire of God (v. 15).
  3. We should seek the good of our brethren in prayer (vv. 16-17).


Heard of God


First, I want you to see that — all true prayer is heard of God (v. 14).


1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us.


Being assured that I am a child of God, chosen of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and called by the Holy Spirit to eternal life, I am also confident that my Father in heaven will hear the voice of my supplications. — Certain things are evident is this 14th verse.


The first thing that is evident is this. — All of God’s children pray. — “When ye pray… John does not state it as a matter of fact; but he assumes that all who are born of God pray. Every heaven-born soul is a praying soul. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the breath of a new born soul. We may not all pray with the same words, the same regularity, the same fervency, or the same confidence. But all of God’s people pray. — John is not here telling us that we ought to pray. We know that; and we do. But he is telling us how we ought to pray, — with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).


Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


Next, the Apostle tells us that true prayer is according to the will of God. I have said that prayer is the believing, submissive heart worshipping God and seeking His will. This is what John tells us, “If we ask anything, according to His will.” What does it mean to pray according to God’s will? This is the point of great ignorance in our day. Simply tacking these five words onto the end of your prayer, “If it be Thy will,” is not praying according to His will.


True prayer is in agreement with God’s will. — It cannot be contrary to God’s revealed will in His Word. Nor can it be contrary to God’s secret will in predestination. Let me show you what it means, or at least what I think it means to pray according to his will.

  • All true prayer is the request of faith, relying upon the promise of God.
  • All true prayer is offered in the name of Christ. That is to say, it is offered upon His authority, trusting the merits of His righteousness and shed blood and His intercession in heaven for its acceptance with God. — True prayer comes to the one true and living God through the merits and mediation of one Man — Jesus Christ!
  • True prayer seeks only that which glorifies God.

We must learn to surrender all things to the will and glory of God our Savior.


And you can be sure of this: — Whenever we do truly pray, our prayer will be according to the will of God. In prayer we seek the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit to show us the mind and will of God. Then, in faith, we ask our Father to do His will. I can have what I will, when my will is lost in His will and becomes one with His will (James 4:3).


James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.


In His model prayer, our Lord taught us that our praying ought to primarily revolve around three things, — the name of God, the kingdom of God, and the will of God (Matthew 6:9-13).


Matthew 6:9-13 (9) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (11) Give us this day our daily bread. (12) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


And John tells us that God hears our prayers. This is our confidence when we pray according to the will of God, “He heareth us.” If I come before God truly seeking His glory and His will, in the name of Christ, God hears my prayer. A father will not turn a deaf ear to his child’s cry. Neither will God refuse to hear our cries to Him.


Desire Granted


Secondly, John shows us that — Whenever we truly pray, we have what we desire of God (v. 15).


1 John 5:15 And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.


All true prayer is effectual prayer. John’s purpose in this verse is to teach us to pray in expectation. Children of God, we ought never to pray and then go away without expecting God to do what we have desired of Him. Let us pray, and then patiently wait.

  • Though we may not presently see it, we have what we desire of God — (Example: Heaven).
  • Predestination is no hindrance to fervent prayer. Oh, no! Predestination is a powerful inspiration to prayer. When God purposes a thing He also purposes the means by which it shall be accomplished; and one of God’s appointed means of accomplishing His purpose is prayer. — Let me show you (Ezekiel 36:25-37).


Ezekiel 36:25-29 (25) Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (26) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (27) And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (28) And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. (29) I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.


Ezekiel 36:36-37 (36) Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. (37) Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.


Let us not waver; but in faith we should wait for God to answer our prayers.

·      Elijah, when he had prayed for rain, sent his servant out to look for a cloud.

·      Samson, when he had prayed for strength, went out and grasped the two pillars of the Philistine temple.

·      Hannah, when she had prayed for a son, wept no more; but went back to her house to wait for the birth of her son.

·      Jacob, after spending the night with God in prayer, was assured of God’s blessing; and he went on confidently to receive it.


We have every reason to expect God to answer our prayers. — Do we not?


We have God’s own promise. — “Whatever we ask, we receive of him” (1 John 3:22). — “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15). — “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). — “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). — “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).


  • The efficacy of Christ’s blood assures us that God will give us our hearts’ desire.


  • The fact that the Holy Spirit is the Author of our prayers assures us that God will answer them.


  • There many are faults in  our praying, but even then we have what we desire of Him.


We may ask for the wrong thing; but God the Holy Ghost helps our infirmities (Romans 8:26-27).


Romans 8:26-27 (26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.


Our hearts are true, earnest, and sincere, but through ignorance, we often ask for the wrong thing. Yet, even then the thing we desire is not our will but God’s will; and He will do it. How often I have asked for one thing, but the Lord graciously gave me something else, which was far better and is what I wanted (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).


2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


We will be wise, when we pray, to humbly leave it to our God and heavenly Father, who hears us always and knows our every need, to answer our prayers as He deems best. His will is always wisest and best. Has He not proved it so countless times? It must be left to Him to grant what, in His infinite wisdom, He has determined is best for our souls, His glory, and the accomplishment of His will.


Many foolishly imagine that when John says “If we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” he is telling us that God has given us a blank check. All we have to do is fill in the amount. Such carnal notions are hatched in hell and promoted only by carnal men, desiring things carnal, not spiritual.




Do you suppose the Lord Jesus prayed properly, in the right spirit, with faith, in submission, when He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane? — Of course He did! Yet, His Father and our Father did not cause the bitter cup to pass from His darling Son. Instead, He heaped upon His darling Son all the sins of His elect, poured out all the fury of His holy wrath, and killed Him in our stead, that He might take the bitter cup out of our hands! — Did the Lord God answer His Son’s prayer? Oh, yes! — He glorified His name in the salvation of His people by the sacrifice of His Son! — And that is what our dear Savior desired. Even more than He desired to avoid being made sin, the Lord Jesus desired the glory of God, the salvation of His people, and the forgiveness of our sins!


Intercessions for Others


In verses 16-17 John gives us a practical application of this subject. He shows us that — We should seek the good of our brethren in prayer. Prayer is a mighty, mighty gift of God to His Church. But our primary interest in prayer should not be selfish. We should seek the spiritual good of our brethren and the kingdom of Christ at large. — Oh, how I fail here!


When a brother is overtaken in a fault, we should seek his restoration by prayer. As our Lord prayed for Peter, let us pray for our brethren (Galatians 6:1-2).


Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.


It is impossible to restore apostates to the faith (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29). The damnation and eternal death of such men is just; and prayer for their restoration is vain. God says, “Pray thou not for this people” (Jeremiah 7:16). But a fallen brother is an apostate (v. 17).


1 John 5:16-17 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. (17) All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.


Bless God, though all sin deserves death, everlasting death in hell, the sin of God’s elect is not unto death, because Christ’s death as our Substitute has annihilated death for us!

  • The sin of the reprobate is sin unto death.
  • The sin of God’s elect is not unto death. — So far is our sin from being unto death that our sin and death in Adam was the very means ordained by our God by which we are made to know the love of God and the glory of God in salvation by Christ!




·      Let us pray, seeking the will of God and the glory of Christ.

·      Let us confidently and patiently wait upon the Lord to accomplish His will.

·      Let us pray one for another.





Don Fortner








Pastor Fortner’s


Audio Sermons

Video Sermons


Event Calendar