Many claim the promise of 1 John 5:14-15, thinking that prayer is the way of getting whatever we desire. A quick reading reveals that it does say whatever we ask, God will give to us. As creatures of our culture, we don’t go any deeper than what makes us feel good. Like everything else in modern Christianity, we’re content to skim the surface of the passage, make it apply to our lives, name it, and claim it.
This is what decades of false teaching, poor exposition, and outright heresy have done to the thinking of the contemporary church. The good news is, yes, Jesus does promise to give us whatever we ask. The bad news for those seeking an easy avenue to health and wealth is this promise comes with a condition that one can only understand by a careful reading and understanding of this rich and deep promise.
In Psalm 37, David writes, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4). The first step, then, to get whatever we desire, is to take delight in the Lord. A funny thing happens as we learn to delight in the Lord. The more we get to know Him, the more we want to please Him. The more we understand Him, the more we want to be like Him. This changes the way we pray. Instead of asking for things that bring us pleasure and make us happy, we pray for things that delight the Lord and receive His approval. We want to show our love for Him.
How do we show our love for Christ? One of Jesus’s closest friends, the Apostle John, gives us a straightforward answer. He tells us that love for God means we keep His commands (1 John 5:3). Thankfully, the closer we draw to Christ, the more we want to obey Him. His commands are not a burden but a reminder that His ways are best, and that through Him we have victory over whatever the world throws at us (1 John 5:4).
What is it Jesus commands us to do? The Lord Himself said the greatest commandment of all is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He followed that by saying the second greatest command was to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves (Mark 12:28–31). Matthew’s account of this adds that the entire law and every prophecy of God hangs on these two commands (Matthew 22:37-40). John elaborates even further by saying the command every believer must follow is to believe in Christ and love each other (1 John 3:23).
If we want to receive whatever we desire, we must first take delight in the Lord by showing our love for His commands. We must love Him with every fiber of our being and then love others as He loves us. As we delight in Him, our entire lives will revolve around Him. Whatever He desires will become what we desire. When your life is utterly consumed by your love for Jesus, then ask Him for whatever you want because what He wants will be what you want. Your prayers will be for the good of others, for the furthering of His mission, and for His glory. That’s a prayer the Lord will answer every time.