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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Praying with the Right Motives

In review of James 4:3 it says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Bottom Line:
Be cautious of your motives when your pray. You may not receive because your reasons are selfish.

What this means to me:
Be careful of my motives when I pray. I may not receive, because I may be asking with the wrong or selfish reasons only.

James tells me in chapter 4 that I “don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

James summarizes that the most common problems in prayer: not asking, asking for the wrong things, asking for the wrong reasons. Am I talking to God at all? When I do, what is the content of what I talk about? Am I only asking to satisfy my desires? Am I seeking approval for what I have already planned to do? My prayers will become more powerful when I allow God to change my desires so that they perfectly correspond to his will for me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives me good gifts that He wants me to enjoy. However, having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasure at others' expense or at the expense of obeying God. Pleasure that keeps me from pleasing God is sinful; pleasure from God's rich bounty is good.

The cure for evil desires and selfishness is humility. Pride will make me self-centered and will lead me to conclude that I deserve all I can see, touch or imagine. It creates a greedy appetite for more than I need. However, I can be released from my self-centered desire by humbling myself before God, realizing that all I really need is his approval.