“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)
Many of you have heard the story of how this verse became one of my favorite verses in scripture. Nearly twenty-five years ago I was facing a crisis in my life that was so perplexing that I didn’t know which way to turn. Space in this short article prevents me from going into detail, but it was one of those times when no matter which direction you turn there appears a good outcome. Many of you have experienced this and with the economy in the shape it is now, this may especially be true for you right now.
I have always believed that the best place to go to find God’s will is in the pages of scripture. I knew that God had the answer for the way I was feeling because as one of His children I always had His abiding promise that He would take care of me. One day I was determined to read scripture until I found something that would settle my heart and take the anxiety away. This is when I turned to 1 John 3:22. I had read this scripture countless times before but it never spoke to me at any time like the way it did on that day.
This verse dovetails perfectly with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done.” This refers to God’s will of precept, which means the keeping of His commandments. Never think that God is disposed to answer prayer when the one that asks has not been careful to observe the commandments. I was determined in my difficult time that if I just took the Word and measured my life by what God commanded me to do that God would answer my prayers and show me how He would lead me through my troubles.
Through the years, I have always advised people that it is very difficult to find help from God when the person does not observe the most obvious of God’s commands. We usually check off the commandments and say, “No, I don’t steal. I’ve never killed anyone. I haven’t cheated on my wife/husband,” etc. But do you remember what Jesus taught concerning these issues? Unrighteous anger is murder in God’s book. A lustful thought is adultery according to Jesus. And then, what about New Testament commands? The scripture says that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Where are you when your church meets for worship? Do you feel you may speak with God and defend your half-hearted devotion? These are issues that must be resolved before God answers prayer. John states it clearly; we receive because we “do.”
Learn the lesson that prayer is linked to the commandments. You will not march through life ignoring God’s preceptive will and then expect Him to rush to your aid to bail you out when you get in trouble. Remember, God is your God all of the time!
Pastor V. Mark Smith