1 John 5:14-15, ‘And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have (or ‘are having’) the requests that we have asked of Him.’
The Passage Considered:
Consider the confidence imparted to the soul when we *know* that God Himself truly hears us. That in and of itself is a staggering concept. God Almighty, the One who orders and ordains all things, the One who upholds reality in being, we can be assured that this God *hears* us when we pray. How can we have this assurance? John tells us: if we pray according to His will.
What, then, is His will? Certainly His every command in Scripture is ‘His will’ (else He would not have commanded it), which means, whenever we are praying the Lord’s commandments back to Him (Father, grant me to believe, grant me to love, grant me not to fear, etc.), we can be sure that we are praying according to His will, and thus, that we are heard. But I think there is another way to speak of God’s will, and that is simply the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ—as the crucified and risen one—IS the will of God in the flesh. His every thought and affection and action (as these are supremely manifest in His Passion), simply IS the will of God. Indeed, every command given in Scripture is just one way of calling us into conformity with this Christ. Thus, we might summarize the concept of praying according to the will of God as praying Christ…praying that Christ be exalted, that Christ be known, that Christ be enjoyed, and that we—and all things—should be conformed to Christ. This, we know beyond all doubt, is the beating heart of God’s will.
And when we pray Christ in this way, we know that we *are receiving* what we pray for…He is being lifted up, He is being declared, and all things—including ourselves, if we being moved by grace to pray in this way—are being brought into conformity with Him.
The Picture Explained:
First, see that the man at the base of the image breathes out his prayer through the Holy Spirit (represented by the translucent, wind-like form of the prayer that rises from his mouth). The Spirit always glorifies Christ (John 16:14), and so this man’s prayer takes the form of the crucified and risen Jesus, to whom the prayer himself is being conformed (note the echoed postures). In this way also I’ve tried to depict the fact that the anastasiform Jesus IS the will of God whom we pray back to God in all of our prayer in the Spirit. The image of Christ splits the veil of heaven (the veil that, Hebrews 10:20 tells us, is ultimately His own flesh, torn on the cross) and so opens the way to God; by this I indicate that prayers made in accordance with the will of God (i.e., Christ) are heard.
But what is actually being ‘asked’ of God when one prays in this way? Is it not ultimately union with, conformity to, and everlasting joy in Jesus? And one who prays in this way is confident that they already have—and are being given—precisely this. To show this, I represented the praying man as kneeling upon the dark stone of Christ’s tomb which is rolling away to reveal the golden hills of the Resurrection / New Creation…already, the One praying for and in Christ is partaking—through union to the Risen One—in the New Creation for which he longs (The jagged mountains and sun and moon and stars at the edges of the image depict the old creation that is passing away). Finally, the triangular shape radiating upward from the man’s heart indicates that, by the indwelling Spirit—who unites us to the Risen Son, such that our prayers in Him are heard in heaven—we are already drawn, in Christ (the God-Man, represented by the purple coloration, since purple is blue [sky/God] plus red [blood/man]), into the Triune Life which is the fulfillment of every prayer and the telos of all desire.