Three Ifs of Prayer

ListeningAn old preacher spoke something in reply to a question from a young man, something so hushed that it was indistinguishable.

The young man stepped across the room.

“What did you say?” he asked.

The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer, until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair.

“Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.”

With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more.

“God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so we will move closer to hear him.” 1

In the book of 1 John, he lists three “ifs” of prayer:

  1. The “if” of obedience to God’s Word. “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (3:21).
  2. The “if” of submission to God’s will. “Now this is the confidence we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (5:14).
  3. The “if” of faith in God. “And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him” (5:15).

“The secret to successful prayer is that Christ listens to your words because you listen to His words. If you are conformed to His will, He will grant you your will. Those who have their wills at the throne of grace, are disciples who have done God’s will in other places.” 2


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  1. Cherie Williams, Sometimes God Whispers, via Thought for the Day, John Fernandez, Florence Christian Church, Florence, OR, Pulpit Helps, January 2001
  2. Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Commentary on Great Chapters of the Bible, Complied by Tom Carter, Kregel Publications, P. O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI, 49501, 1998, p. 229