Daily Devotion | Day 298
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3, NKJV).
God cares about motives. He cares about the motives behind our prayer, our words and our actions. We can hide our motives from people, but not from God. As we will find out today, motives affect the outcome of our prayer. The Lord wants our motives to be clean and genuine. He cannot participate in wrong motives. Therefore, when we ask Him for something, it matters why we’re asking.
We’ve previously identified four barriers to prayer. Today, we’ll talk about a fifth barrier: wrong motives. We’ll focus on what James says in today’s opening passage and find out what God wants to teach us. As always, remember that the purpose of this series is to help us become aware of obstacles to prayer and to be able to prevent their occurrence or to remove them if they occur.
James says, people ask and do not receive because they ask wrongly. It’s about motives. They ask so that they may indulge in worldly pleasures and satisfy their unbridled lusts. In 4:1-2, James tells us that these ungodly lusts are the underlying cause of envy and strife. In his own words, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (4:1).
James is writing to Christians. But let us not be surprised. We know that in some of our churches people quarrel and fight for money, position, attention and status. This phenomenon is fueled by greed, selfishness and wrong motives. God knows about this, and He doesn’t answer prayer requests which are associated with what James describes. Sometimes people think they can use God as a tool to further their ungodly lifestyle. They’re wrong.
Before we conclude today’s message, let’s look at an example from Jesus’ ministry. One day, as He was teaching someone pleaded with Him, ‘“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’ And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”’ (Luke 12:13-15). Jesus declined the man’s request because He knew that he was motivated by greed and envy.
To sum up, God is happy to answer our prayer. But He will not sponsor requests based on wrong motives. Let us, therefore, keep our motives clean and genuine.
Blessing: May the Lord keep you from stumbling. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For further study: Mark 10:35-45