Today’s bible study is James 4:3: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
This particular verse has a great deal of bearing on our lives and choices today. Even though the archaic wording of the King James Version of the bible might make it a bit difficult to understand, we can clarify it by using the New International Version: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
This takes us back to the very foundation of Christian prayer. Many of us pray daily, or even throughout the day as different needs, joys and challenges arise. And, very often, our prayers are asking God to help us with something or give us something. It may be praying for enough money to make it through until the next pay check, a new pair of shoes for our son to wear to school, or even for the healing of a disease or injury.
We pray through Jesus as we were taught to pray, and we seem to have only the very best interests at heart. Yet, when our prayers appear not to have been answered, we ask, ‘Why?’ The answer is very simple. We are taught to pray that God’s will, not ours be done. We are taught to pray for strength, love and guidance as followers of Jesus, not for material things or even changes that could possible occur. If God and Jesus Christ’s will is for us to have a little more financial security, new clothing for our children, or the healing of an illness or injury, it will be done. But, if we pray from our own wills, it very likely will seem to be a prayer not answered.
Almost certainly, our prayers have been answered. If we prayed as we were taught and truly believe, our prayers were answered according to the will of God. Perhaps our motives were not in accordance with His holy will, and perhaps we shall never truly understand, yet they were answered.
Does God test us? Does God’s will take precedence over our own? Yes. Whenever we pray, we need to ask ourselves in our hearts exactly what our motives are and whether they are pure in God’s sight. Maybe just a wee bit of selfishness is creeping in, or perhaps we are centered upon our own worries for a situation or a loved one. It may be agonizing for us to recognize that God does, from time to time, test us through adversity and discipline (or discipleship) us through His love.
May we always recognize that God’s will, and not necessarily our own is the very center of our prayers and is what will be done. Yes, it might coincide with what we pray for and, on those occasions that it does, we can be truly thankful that our motives were pure and that God saw fit to answer our prayers as we had hoped. When the answer remains unclear to us and we feel a bit let down, we need only to remember that God’s will, not ours, has been done.