“You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.” (James 4:3 WEB).
God is a loving and compassionate Father. God’s care and love for His children transcends our deepest understanding or wildest imaginations. God’s ears are always opened to our prayers and He is much more eager and willing to answer our prayers than we are eager and willing to receive.
God is ever swift to answer the prayers of His children. At the first word of your prayer, the answer is already given and released. Hallelujah!
The Scripture attests to God’s eagerness to answer the prayers of His children.
God promised through His prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 65:
24 And before they make their request I will give an answer, and while they are still making prayer to me, I will give ear. (BBE).
The angel sent to Daniel to give the answer to his prayer also attests to God’s eagerness to answer the prayers of His children in Daniel 9:
23 At the first word of your prayer a word went out, and I have come to give you knowledge; for you are a man dearly loved: so give thought to the word and let the vision be clear to you. (BBE).
Although God is eager and swift to answer prayers, yet He does not answer all prayers. Even though God is a very loving Father, yet He is not a sentimental or effusively emotional being who can be swayed, persuaded or influenced by mere gesticulations, loud cries, screaming or shouting in prayer.
We can never exert any control upon God or manipulate Him to answer our prayers through our vain repetition, desperation, gesticulation or posture in prayers.
God cannot be hurried, compelled or driven to answer our prayers by simply increasing the volume or intensity of our prayers, by hiring or gathering more people to pray with or for us, or by going to a certain sacred or hallowed place to pray.
If we don’t pray according to God’s laid down principles of prayer in the New Testament, our prayers are void and useless; they are nothing but fleshly, futile and profitless exercises.
In the first part of this piece we began to examine some basic principles that should govern our prayers as the New Testament saints. Let us recap what we have examined so far.
First, our prayers must be offered only to the living God who created the heavens and the earth:
It is idolatry to offer our prayers to any other being whether man or god, saints or sinners, dead or living. Prayer is a spiritual offering that only the true and living God is worthy to receive (Acts 12:5, Rev. 8:3).
Second, our prayers or requests must be offered to God only through and in the name of Jesus Christ:
Our prayers will not attract God’s attention if not presented to Him through His Son Jesus Christ who is the only approved Mediator between God and men, and also our Advocator before God (1 Tim. 2:5, 1 John 2:1).
Third, our prayers must be according to God’s will, plan, promise, or purpose for our lives revealed to us in God’s Word by the Holy Spirit:
It is a vain exercise when we pray contrary to God’s perfect will, plan and purpose for our lives or situations.
The Scripture states, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NKJV).
Let us now consider more New Testament principles of prayer.
Fourth, we must pray with right motives, intentions or purposes:
God always looks beyond our loud cries, gesticulations, desperation, or repetition of words in prayer into our hearts to examine the motives or reasons for our requests, petitions or supplications before He grants them.
Therefore, it is always good to check out, examine and purify your motives before you present your requests to God.
What are you presently seeking in prayer to receive from God?
Why do you want it and what do you want to do with it?
If the motive or thrust of your prayers is to gratify, pacify or glorify the flesh, or to promote, advance or advertize yourself, or just to impress, intimidate or oppress someone else; it is a waste of time praying, for God will not answer such prayers.
Many of your prayers have not been answered because your motives for asking are carnal, selfish, impure and insincere. If your motive is for God’s glory, for God’s Kingdom, or for the good and benefit of others; God will surely answer you and grant your requests. But, when you pray with wrong motives, your prayers will not be answered.
James testifies to this truth in James 4:
3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. (WEB).
Fifth, God only answers when we pray in faith:
It is not the length, duration, frequency, loudness, or volume of your prayers that attracts God’s attention, but faith in your heart while praying.
The efficacy or power of your prayer does not depend on the volume, loudness, frequency or duration of your prayer, nor on your gesticulation or posture while praying, but on your faith and revelation knowledge of God’s Word.
God only answers prayers from a heart that trusts in His faithfulness and ability to perform what He has promised in His Word.
It is only the prayer of faith that avails much and produces amazing results, for that is the only kind of prayer that God always honours and answers (Jam. 5:15). Most of our prayers have failed simply because of our doubts and unbelief.
The Lord Jesus Christ assures His disciples in Matthew 21:
22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (RSV).
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (RSV).
James also admonishes us to pray in faith in James 1:
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. (NKJV).
Lastly, it is the fervent prayer of the righteous that avails much:
The born-again believers have received God’s righteousness as a gift through faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ.
The Scripture amply states this truth.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference. (NKJV).
17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (NKJV).
2 Corinthians 5:
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (NKJV).
The New Testament believers are the righteousness of God in Christ. We are always and completely accepted to God in Christ, and God is committed to answering our prayers of faith.
Beloved, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, your prayers are ineffective and cannot avail much. It is only the prayers of the born-again believers that are effective and powerful.
The Scripture testifies that “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
However, God’s ears are always opened to the cry or prayer of sinners who call upon Him for forgiveness, mercy and salvation. If you cry out today to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save you from your sins; He will answer you.
God is committed to answering the prayers of His children who continue to abide in the teachings of Christ, walking in His footsteps, and seeking to conform increasingly to Christ in their will, mind, emotions and actions.
1 John 3:
22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (NKJV).
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (RSV).
The believers who deliberately and consistently choose to walk in disobedience to God’s Word may have answers to their prayers delayed or hindered by the devil (1 Pet. 3:7).
Friend, has the devil been hindering or delaying answers to your prayers because of your disobedience to God’s Word? Repent today and begin to resist the devil so that he will not continue to nullify your prayers or hinder the answers to your prayers.
1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I repent today of my willful disobedience to Your Word that has given Satan the right to hinder or nullify my prayers. I receive God’s forgiveness today and I resist and bind the devil, in Jesus’ name. Amen.