“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” ‒ James 4:3 (NIV)
If I were to transcribe my prayers, I believe I’d find they are mostly requests for God to do something. “Heal this person, provide for this family, take care of my daughters, provide resources for this church to make a difference in the lives of people.” Some of those requests are good, God-honoring prayers. And some of them are really selfish and self-centered. James, the half-brother of Jesus, tells believers that motives matter. Like a good parent, God won’t respond affirmatively over and over to requests that aren’t for our good. He loves us too much to do that.
This is a good reminder to me to temper my “asks” in prayer with questions. Where are you at work in my life, God? What do you want to do in me today? What do you want to do through me today? If I ask and then listen, it might just change what I’m asking.
- William Attaway