Lord, let the Spirit establish Your Word in our heart. Amen.
Text: First John 5:13–15
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 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.
Saint John would encourage us to believe and to pray with trusting heart. If our hope depended on our works, we could never be certain of our salvation. We always feel our imperfection and would have to be unsure of entering heaven. “Are you so faithful that God will receive you into grace? Do you worship God so well that He will overlook your faults?” We would always have to ask such questions. – But now the Spirit has made it clear to us that we deserve only eternal death, so that we cannot be saved by works. But in the same way He has taught us (praise God!) that we are saved by Jesus’ merit, saved only for Jesus’ sake. God’s Son has done the work and suffered death for us. His name is Jesus, and He has saved2 us. We have received the Son and life, and everything is finished. We are not deceived when we rely on Him. Or is His work also imperfect? Or His blood worth too little? Truly, He has fulfilled His office and He is a sure foundation to build upon forever. God wants us to know that we have eternal life, and to believe firmly and certainly in His Son’s name. – Dreadful lie, devilish unbelief, that rejects the truth and love itself!
With heartfelt prayer we stretch forth the hand of faith to God’s gifts in Christ, and the Holy Spirit taught John to write this, so that we should pray in full certainty of faith. When our hearts desire enlightenment, faith, forgiveness of sins, love, purity, patience, gentleness, or when we pray for the advancement of the Church, the proclamation of the Word, and for the kingdom to come, or for daily bread and peace of mind, for victory in temptation and a blessed death, in short, whatever Jesus has said we should pray for, or God commands us to have; if we pray for anything according to His will, if the prayer is worked in our hearts by God Himself, if it is the Spirit of the Son in us who prays, then should we not receive it? God wants to give it to us and has worked in us that we want to have it. He has given us everything in His Son and now can offer it to us, since we have a heart to receive it: then will our prayer go unheard? “We have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” John is not dreaming when he says that we already have it. Never does a heartfelt prayer according to God’s will go unheard! O rely on God’s Word!
Make our will one with Your will, gracious God. Mortify the desire of our flesh, and draw our hearts to You. Assure us of Your fatherly grace and the certainty of our inheritance, and help us to pray with childlike confidence in Jesus’ name. Amen.
O hear Him very gently call:
“Come, precious soul; I give you all
That with My love for you I earned.
The best for you I ever yearned;
My cov’nant I have made with you,
With godly pow’r I will help you.
“I made you when your life began;
Your soul and body I sustain.
I will support your sighing breath,
I am with you in life and death,
I gladly give you all you need,
When you with heartfelt faith do plead.”
Phillippi: Giv dig, min kjære Sjæl, til Ro L 405:2-3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Vater unser (ELH 383); alternate hymn: Rise, my soul, to watch and pray ELH 253:6