How To Lead A Life Defined By Faith…

As children of God, John counsels us here to lead lives defined by our faith in Jesus Christ and by the habit of prayer. If we believe in the name of Jesus, and come to know him personally, we can know that when 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 what we asked of him.” (verses 14-15)

The key here is if we pray “according to his will.” In order to do this we must continue to develop our relationship with Jesus. When we are baptized we begin a lifelong relationship with God. This can be analogous to a marriage. When we marry someone, in the beginning we are flush with the initially intense joys of romantic love. But over the course of a lifelong, committed relationship, we come to know the other far more intimately, far more deeply than we could have ever imagined on our wedding day. My wife and I have been married now for 42 years. Like most people, when we first married we thought we knew everything about love. But marriage has a way of teaching us that romantic love is just the fire starter, it is not the flame that builds over time into something closer to the kind of love that God has for each of us. You “talk” with one another. You actively “listen” to and to “hear” one another. You share the full range of emotions with one another, and if your love is true, it survives the hard and challenging times because you love the inner person of the other more than you dislike the injury. In this lifelong conversation with one another requests are honored, and forgivenesses offered. And love grows richer, stronger and more profound.

And so it is with God. When we enter a relationship with him at our baptisms we hope this relationship will endure and grow for a lifetime and beyond. As human beings and sinners, we are not free of love’s more difficult challenges. The great difference between us and God is that God’s love is always perfect. Ours is not yet so. But, as in a growing marriage relationship, in our relational conversations with God we come to know him more intimately. We can openly express our fears, our angers, our disappointment, our failures. We can also express our thanks for the joys and the feelings of comfort and renewal we experience when we are in his presence. We know that he listens to us and hears us with unconditional love. Our greatest joy is in knowing that his love for us never diminishes, never fails.

When we grow in our knowledge of Jesus we want to be with him, to converse with him more and more. Our prayer life and our living relationship with Jesus deepens. When we come to know him more, we come to know his will for us more, and when we pray, we ask only for those things that we know are in accord with his will for us and for others. In our deepening prayer life we come to know more surely that we have eternal life in him. In this knowledge. John counsels us to pray also for our brothers and sisters if we see them sinning. We know that we often need this kind of prayer ourselves. This kind of prayer is in accord with God’s will. When we do this we are imitating Jesus and he hears and aswers our prayers. We pray, then, out of holy humility, knowing that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ.” (verses 19-20)

Lord, we know that you love us with an everlasting love. You call us to be in relationship with you every moment and you patiently wait for us to respond to your call. Instill in us an ever deepening desire to be in prayerful conversation with you in the depths of our souls where we can hear and commit to your will for us and others more clearly. We pray this in your name Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.