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May 10, 2021

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”  1 John 5: 14

I thought of one of our sons who recently graduated from UCLA when I read the Scripture texts for next Sunday.[1]  For a long time what he did and how he spent the majority of his time was dictated by the academic calendar–by assignments, tests, and paper due dates–all determined by his teachers.  But his teachers are no longer giving him assignments or testing him.  He is at a crossroad; he must decide how to proceed.  He must decide which route to take to his future. As an English Literature major, he has many options, but no one clear path. 

The disciples, now apostles, were in a similar situation following Jesus’ ascension. They were feeling the loss of Jesus, their teacher, their leader who had always shown them the way.  They were at a crossroad between having Jesus to guide them and having to guide themselves.  But he had told them to stay in Jerusalem and he promised to send the Spirit within a few days (Acts 1: 4) to show them the way forward. 

They followed his instructions and stayed in Jerusalem, and they prayed for answers: “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:14). They found that they were not alone, that the Holy Spirit was with them to help them. When you are at a crossroad in your life, when you are at a loss of what to do next, follow the guidelines set forth in Scripture, pray for answers, and wait for the Holy Spirit to come alongside you to help you in the circumstances, events, and people put in your path.

You can pray with confidence that God hears your prayers, that he is faithful, and that he will give you the answers you need.  Whether God hears and answers our prayers was also the subject of my July 20, 2016 blog, Yes, Virginia, God Answers Prayer

The Resurrection gives us confidence in our salvation.  It showed us that Christ atoned for our sins and secured our salvation when he died on the cross.  This is a confidence that we can take to the bank.  It is a confidence that sees us through life.  In 1 John we read “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5: 12).  But John also gives us confidence that God hears our prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5: 14).[2]  

The key to ensuring that God listens to our prayers is found in the prayers themselves.  If we approach prayer as a discussion with God about his will for us, he listens and will answer our prayers.  We can pray with confidence that God will show us the way to the path he wants us to follow if we pray “Thy will be done.”  Father Robert Spitzer says that is the most important prayer of all: “If you cannot remember any other prayer, default to this one.”[3]  The purpose of prayer is not to impose our will on God, but to determine what his will is for our lives and to intercede on behalf of others (1 John 5:16).   

God is not a cosmic butler to be summoned to do our bidding– to further our own goals.  He only answers prayers that are within the gambit of his plan for us. And God’s plan is always the best.  A.Z. Tozer writes, “When we go to God with a request that He modify the existing situation for us, that is, that He answer prayer, there are two conditions that we must meet: (1) We must pray in the will of God. (2) We must be on what old-fashioned Christians often call ‘praying ground’; that is we must be living lives pleasing to God.  It is futile to beg God to act contrary to His revealed purposes.”[4]

Please read that sentence again and really think about it: “It is futile to beg God to act contrary to His revealed purposes.”  God wants to commune with us; he wants to answer our prayers, but we must meet those conditions.  The other Scripture texts for next Sunday give us examples of people praying on “praying ground” that God’s will be done.  

Jesus himself provided many examples of prayer and instructed us how to pray.  The Lord’s Prayer includes the key element, “Thy will be done.”  We see Jesus praying for his disciples in the 17th Chapter of John.  He prayed for their protection: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be as one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me . . . My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” (Excerpts, John 17: 11-12; 15).

Have confidence that God will hear and answer your prayer that his will be done in your life and in the lives of those you love.  God wants only the best for you and for your loved ones.

Are you at a crossroad in your life with no clear path ahead?  Many people are for a variety of reasons– retirement, graduation, loss of a job, loss of a child, parent, or spouse due to death, illness or estrangement, to name a few.  Is your church at a crossroad due to changes in the lay leadership, ministries, pastor, mission, or for other reasons?  

 When you follow Jesus and pray that his will be done, you can be confident that he is listening to you and that he will answer your prayers.  He will arrange for people, circumstances, and events to come together and to show you the way out of your challenges, despair, anxiety, and desperation.  When you are at a crossroad in life, God will point the way to the path that he wants you and your loved ones to follow.  

Prayer: Father, we thank and praise you for sending Jesus to earth to save us. We thank and praise you for the apostles who recorded Jesus’ words and actions in Scripture to guide us. We thank and praise you for sending Jesus’ Spirit to guide us throughout our lives– especially when we are at a crossroad.  Light the path you want us to take. Show us the way.  Help and guide us to do your will. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives with you and Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Seventh Week of Easter are Acts 1: 12-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5: 9-15; John 17: 11-19.

[2] The Scripture texts for the Seventh Week of Easter are Acts 1: 12-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5: 9-15; John 17: 11-19.

[3] Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life (2008) Ignatius Press, p. 36

[4] A. Z. Tozer, compiled by W. L. Seaver, Prayer: Communing with God in Everything (2016) Moody Publishers, p. 166.

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