Principles for Confidence in Prayer :: by Gene Lawley

The Bible says, in Psalm 65:2, “O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” It is so stated in a context of concern for the psalmist’s sins:

“Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.”

It speaks of confidence and expectation of positive results in the engagement. And it identifies the One who is able to provide those positive results. In that light, prayer to God should be with an attitude of  connecting with God’s benevolent willingness and not an attempt to overcome His reluctance. He says, in Luke 18:1, “…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” and relates a parable about being persistent.

Some have been helped by following the steps in the acronym ACTS to give some sense of order to their prayers. It works like this:

A – Adoration. An example of this is the prayer of David as he praised the Lord in allowing the people to provide necessary materials for building the temple, which Solomon was to undertake:

“Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all.

“Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

“Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:10b-13).

C – Confession. To acknowledge our sins to God is the first step for forgiveness, whether a specific sin or admitting we are prone to sin when left to our own devices. God’s provision for this is found in 1 John 1:9. It clears the pathway to God:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

T – Thanksgiving. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Note that he did not write “for” everything, but “in” everything. This establishes the  mental attitude that God is sovereign and nothing takes place in our lives that He does not control.

That, in turn, establishes the reality that “all the promises of God in Him (Christ) are YES and in Him, AMEN!” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

S – Supplications. Last on the list are our requests, for our own needs and those of others. Here is where believing and trusting comes into prominence and is the proper introduction to the main thrust of this article.

The above acronym is more of a guideline for worshipping in prayer and in fellowship with God. It should set the stage or build the foundation for seeking God’s response for that which we are concerned.

1. Ask. It is obvious that to obtain, we must ask. There are some, perhaps many, who are reluctant to ask God for anything, perhaps thinking it is being more humble to not do that, or even, pride comes in to whisper, “You can do that yourself, you don’t need God.” But the Scriptures present an open invitation to call upon God. In Jeremiah 33:3, Jeremiah writes, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

The writer of Psalm 50:15, which some call God’s telephone number, says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Jesus urged His followers to ask Him for our needs. In John 16:24, it is written, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Asking in the name of Jesus gives us the authority to present the request with confidence, and note that He is eager for us to do so.

There is a caveat, however, for James tells us, “You ask and have not because you ask amiss to satisfy your lusts” (James 4:3). In that case, we have great protection, for God will not let anything come to us that is destructive, and it is not meant that we should not ask, in fear that it might be so. Allow God’s wisdom to take care of that issue, for most of the time we will know the character of our potential request.

2. Believe. Matthew said it plainly: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). Reciting prayers from a prayer book that someone else has written seems so useless, so much a waste of time. What is the cry of your own heart? That is a prayer that you can take to God with expectation and hopefulness and whatever amount of faith you can muster for the moment.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us this important fact:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The word, “believe,” is a word we throw out quite casually many times, and the recipient could have a real struggle with what that means and what it takes to make it effective. The next two principles touch on this very thing.

3. Believe God over self-condemnation. This principle comes from 1 John 3:20-21, as follows:

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.”

Self-condemnation clutters up things terribly when we commit a sin, ask for forgiveness for it, and our conscience continues to harbor that guilt in defiance of the fact that God has forgiven us for it. A more extensive coverage of this is an article titled, “Overcoming Self-Condemnation,” referenced below. [1]

Note in the passage it says where there is no self-condemnation, there is confidence toward God. Believing God is not hampered by those feelings of guilt, so claiming God’s forgiveness, as promised, in spite of what we feel like inside is a great step of faith!

4. Believing God in regard to the certainty of our salvation. How this affects confidence in prayer springs out of a passage of Scripture in 1 John 5:11-15 that speaks of knowing we are saved and on that foundation there is confidence in our prayers, when in the will of God, will be received and answered:

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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.”

What this is saying, in the New King James Version, as it says in the original King James Version, is that once you know that you know what you know, that God’s Word is true and you are secure in Christ, your prayer life takes on a confidence that springs out of a faith that is locked firmly into that Rock of our eternal salvation.

Confidence is a rare jewel in an uncertain world and being without it is like being lost in a swampy wilderness. Thus, the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:35).

Paul has articulated that such confidence gives believers an assured hope in a desirable eternal destiny: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Blessed assurance—knowing that you know what you know…because God said so!

[1] “Overcoming Self-condemnation”