What is confidence? And what do we mean by praying with confidence? I think there are at least four possible meanings. Basically, confidence means to have faith, to trust, to believe, or to rely on. Confidence in prayer means that when I pray I believe or trust in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. It also means that I believe in the promises of His Word.
Secondly, confidence means that I have hope and that I have assurance. In prayer it means that I can pray without doubting because I have hope in His word and I have assurance that He will not go back on His promises. In Philippians 1:3-6 we have a good example of a prayer with confidence. Here Paul writes, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you… 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.”
A third variation of the meaning of confidence is courage, also to feel safe. These may be two different meanings, but I think they go together; for when God gives me courage, I also feel safe and secure. When we approach God’s throne in prayer we can and should approach His throne with this kind of confidence—a confidence that is courageous, that feels no fear (Heb. 4:16).
Last, confidence means to take hold of something. In prayer it means that when I pray I take hold of His promise. Hence, when I pray with confidence concerning a request that I believe God will give me, I take hold of it with strong faith and I visualize that it is already mine. The teaching for this kind of confidence in prayer is in Mark 11:20-24. Here Jesus teaches, “Have faith [confidence] in God… Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”