RSS Feed

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Why I Pray Is More Important Than What I Pray For

James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)

God wants to bless my life and then watch me bless other people’s lives with the same benefits he gives to me. In fact, one condition for answered prayer is a willingness to use God’s blessings to help those less fortunate.

Proverbs 21:13 says, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” (NIV). God is saying that, if I ignore those around me who are in obvious difficulty, it doesn’t make sense to expect him to bail me out of my own difficulties.

God wants me to be like him, and God is love. One of the ways I prove I have love is that I’m willing to be generous toward others. The principle of stewardship is repeated throughout Scripture: God blesses me so that I might be a blessing to others.

For instance, I might ask God for good health, but what am I going to do with that healthy body after I’ve got it? Am I praying just to help myself, or am I praying so I can help other people too? When I ask God to bless my business or career, am I willing to give back a portion of what God has blessed me with?

The Bible says in James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (NIV). Motive is important in prayer. Why I pray is more important than what I pray for.

Is it possible to pray for the right thing with the wrong motive. Not that I should never pray for my own personal needs. Jesus says to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 ESV). But I have to check my motives. Am I willing to share my blessing with others, or am I going to hoard it all for myself?

God is not interested in simply satisfying my selfishness. The conditions of prayer are that I have an honest relationship with God, a forgiving attitude toward other people, and a willingness to share God’s blessings with others. God loves me, so he’s teaching me how to pray in an effective way.