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Asking For The Wrong Reasons

"...Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss..." James 4:3 (NKJV)

One of the greatest privileges and most powerful weapons we have been given as Christian men and women is the gift of prayer.  And yet most Christians never really utilize prayer, or see its fruit in their lives. 

Q:         But what about the many prayers that are given—why aren’t they answered?

I have heard it said, “All prayers are answered—sometimes the answer is “Yes,” and other times it’s “No.”  And then there are times when it’s, “Not yet.”  The truth is, we don’t always understand all the specifics of why God chooses to answer prayer, but there is much we can know.  For example, we know God will answer every one of our prayers (In His perfect way and timing) when we ask for things that are in His will (1 John 5:14-15).

In the Book of James we are given an important reason as to why our prayers may not be answered.  James clearly states, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:3).  

Obviously, God will not answer a prayer not given.  A person who refuses to seek the Lord in prayer is the person who refuses to ask God for help.  He or she believes they can acquire and accomplish what they desire by his or her own efforts, human reasoning, and earthly wisdom.  But, without prayer, we cannot access the power, wisdom, and abilities needed to be consistent and successful in our Christian walk.

James goes on to say, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss,” (James 4:3).

So here we can see the principle of asking incorrectly—even though we may be willing to seek the help of God, we are asking for the wrong reasons, or for the wrong things.  

We need to remember something very important about prayer—prayer is not dictating orders to God like some Genie in a bottle; it is making our request known to God, and then saying, “Your will be done Lord with my life and in this situation, because I believe You know what is best for me and all involved.”  This is exactly what Jesus modeled for us when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-43).

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. Luke 22:41-43 (NKJV)

We tend to see things in a limited, finite way, not always seeing the big picture, and therefore we may not know how, or even want to pray for what is best.  But we can always trust in the Holy Spirit’s leading, and in God’s perfect sovereignty (cf. Rom. 8:28).  If we trust God completely, then our reason for asking will always be prompted by our desire to see God’s goodness, mercy, love and grace magnified—it will be for His glory and honor to be brought to light through the circumstances for which we are seeking Him.

I want to encourage you today to pray about everything—seeking God in every decision, and not just the tough ones.  Let’s say with a joyful heart, “Your will be done” at the end of each prayer.

STUDY QUESTION: What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer in Luke 22:41-43?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Do you pray for God’s will to be done in every part of your life, or do you pray for your own way and will to be done?

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Let’s seek God continuously in prayer for His will.  Let’s be faithful to read our Bible’s daily, and to ask God to show us His will.

LET’S PRAY: Father, thank You for allowing us to come boldly to You in prayer.  Help us to be humble and submissive to Your perfect will when we make our prayers to You.  Help us to remember that You are in control and that You are willing to use everything for good for those who love You and who are the called.  In Jesus’ precious name, amen…

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott

Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000