Do you sometimes wonder if God is listening to you? Does it seem like your prayers are going unanswered? We have all experienced this at one time or another. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the remedy is found in Christ’s example.
One of the great and endearing aspects of Christ’s life is what He did for each of us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He did what was needful for us to be able to come to have a reconciled relationship with both Him and His Father. He filled a need that, at the time, we didn’t even know existed. By expressing His love in that manner, the way to a far more abundant life was opened to us.
Part of the abundance that we receive is to be able to follow in His footsteps. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Not only can we be assured of His love through the giving of His life on our behalf, but we can give that very same gift by laying down our lives for one another. John continues in verses 17 – 18: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). When we see a need that a brother or sister in Christ has and fill it, we can be assured that God’s love dwells in us. The apostle is referring to physical needs here, but there are other needs as well: encouragement, guidance, friendship, etc.
Something amazing happens when we go beyond talking about the needs of others to actually filling them in deed and in truth. “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. 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” (1 John 3:19-21). God can read us like a book. If all we are doing is “loving” in word and in tongue — He knows it. But we can know that we are not deceived in what it is that we profess to be when we genuinely follow Christ’s example of filling the needs of others. In doing so, we can be supremely confident in God. That is when our lives become far more fulfilled and abundant.
God’s pleasure in our heart, then, will be shown in a particular way. “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment” (1 John 3:22-23). When we fill one another’s needs, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, and if we’re committed to filling any needs that we may not even realize exist yet, God will answer our prayers. How can we be so confident? Those who fill the needs of others from a pure heart will offer up prayers that strongly reflect love as well.