And this is the confidence that we have in him ,.... Either in God, to whom prayer is made; or in the Son of God, through whose blood and righteousness believers in him have confidence with God at the throne of grace; they can come with boldness and intrepidity, and use freedom and liberty of speech, as the word here used signifies; especially when they have the Spirit of Christ with them, and are under the sprinklings of the blood of Christ, and have a comfortable assurance of being heard and answered; and this is what the Jews call עייון תפלה , "the consideration", or "attention of prayer"
"after a man has prayed, he judges in his heart that the holy blessed God will give him his reward, and will do everything needful for him, and will hear his prayer, because he has prayed with intention;'
but this is much better expressed, and upon a much better foundation, by our apostle here:
that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us ; to ask anything according to the will of God, is to ask, as to matter, what, and in a manner which, is agreeably to it; by which is meant, not his secret will, or his purposes and decrees, which are unknown, though, so far as these are made known, they are not to be prayed against, for they can never be made void; and therefore, when God had declared it as his purposing will, that the Israelites in the wilderness should not enter into Canaan's land, and that he had rejected Saul from the kingdom, in these cases it would have been wrong for Moses to have prayed for the one, or Samuel for the other; 1 Samuel 16:1 ; and though no one person is to be excluded from our prayers on the account of the decree of reprobation, since no man can certainly be known to be a reprobate; yet it does not become us to pray for the conversion and salvation of reprobates in general, since this would be contrary to the decree of God: and such purposes which God has declared by prophecy he has purposed in himself, as the conversion of the Jews, the bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles, the destruction of antichrist, and the glory of the Gospel church, for these we should pray that God would hasten them in his own time, and we are sure of being heard; but the revealed will of God is here intended, by which it appears that all grace is laid up in Christ, and all spiritual blessings are with him, and that the covenant of grace is ordered in all things, and full of the sure mercies of David, and of exceeding great and precious promises; all which are treasured up for the benefit and use of the people of God; and if, therefore, they ask for any grace, or supply of grace, for any spiritual blessing or mercy laid up in Christ, in the covenant, or in any of the promises, they ask that for matter which is according to the will of God, and which they may be assured they shall have, sooner or later: and to ask in a manner agreeably to his will, is to come in the name of Christ, and make mention of his righteousness, and ask for his sake; to put up all petitions in faith, with fervency, in sincerity, and uprightness; with reverence, humility, and submission to the divine will, and with importunity; and such askers God hears, even so as to answer, and grant their requests in his own time, though not always in theirs; in some cases sooner, in others later, according to his infinite wisdom, and in his own way, which is always the best, though not in theirs, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7 . The Alexandrian copy and the Ethiopic version read, "if we ask anything according to", or in his name: that is, of Christ, and which agrees with John 14:13 .