"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14).
Parenting is such a joy full and overflowing with teachable moments! And no, I'm not just referring to the children. There are so many things that I learn as a parent, and that I learn about God through me being a parent. Case and point: we are constantly trying to teach our children to be polite and to ask for things nicely, rather than coming across in a way that is demanding, unrealistically expectant, and rude. We teach them to be patient, kind, gentle and polite as they are asking of things from siblings, mom and dad, or anyone. Not too long ago, one of my children began to cry out in great emotion. I asked this precious child of mine what was wrong. The response was this: "I asked very politely for this toy and they said, 'no,' and I still want it. You said all I had to do was ask politely!"
In that moment, God began to reveal to me how we, at times, approach prayer. We want, we pray, and if we ask nice enough, or "humble" enough, then we should get what we've asked for. What a challenge and a blessing John gives here in this verse. We are not to pray and ask for things at random, or to merely fulfill our own desires. But rather, we are to continue to desire to always be in the center of God's will. The word "will" is a word that means inclination, desire, pleasure, determination, and purpose. When we pray according to our will, our inclinations, and determined to fulfill our desires and pleasures, but trying to do it nicely, we are praying according to coercion, not exaltation.
But, when we pray according to what brings Him pleasure; when we are purposing to be intimately connected to what His heart is inclined to, He hears us and is more attentive to us. His heart's desire is for His will to be lived out in our lives. "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Here's the challenge. How do you pray the will of God if you are not in in the will of God? Choose to live so close to Him that you are living congruently in His will. Purpose day by day and moment by moment to submit to Him in all things through your obedience. As you commit to this being the seal upon your life, it will forever change how you pray, and the results when you pray.