Monday, November 18, 2013

Ask Amiss

                                      cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Jan Smith

In our last post, Calling 911!, we talked about attitude change to cure a natural avoidance of prayer. We included a number of verses for meditation.  But why would we avoid prayer?

Let's start with one of the verses from last time:

James 4:3 (KJV)  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 

If we stretch the point a little, that verse says it all.  Our lusts tend to keep us focused on our selves and our experiences.  Prayer tends to be a reminder that we're not the center of the universe.  So, if only subconsciously, we determine to avoid that by not fully acknowledging He who is the center of the universe.  And some of that could be intentional.

Sin in our life has a way of halting our prayer life.  And sin most often gets into our life because of that self focus we just mentioned.  We get busy pleasing ourselves with things that don't necessarily include God.  I'm not talking about things like drinking and various lusts.  I'm talking about "good" things that, if there are too many of them, squeeze out the really important stuff.  It could very well be that time taken by strategizing for that church building fund could be taking away from prayer time for the very same thing.

Sin does something else, too.  It sets up a condition for guilt to come in.  And, when we feel guilty, we tend not to talk to God.  Because, if we talk to God, part of that conversation has to be Ï screwed up, God.".  And we'd rather sweep that under the rug.  Well, here comes the big revelation!  God is omniscient -- He knows everything.  So, He knew before we sinned that we would.  And He loves us enough to give us a way to get out of the eternal consequences.  Our discussion, today, assumes that we've already accepted the gift of salvation.  But, even after that, we have to own up to our shortcomings.  And that confession to God doesn't necessarily eliminate consequences in our earthly life. But sin and most of it's consequences are for a different discussion.

Getting back to prayer, I want us to think about what happens when we don't pray or don't pray enough.  Think about what happens if we care about someone and they ignore us.  What's our reaction?  We're hurt because the caring is one sided.  That evaluation could be wrong on our part, but God knows when we've lost our focus.  Do we really want to cause that kind of pain for God?  I doubt it.  But that's what happens.

The verse before James 4:3 can be summarized as saying we try everything we can think of to get what we want, except going to God for it.  That can be because we know what we want is wrong or that our motivation is wrong.  It could also mean that we realize that God's answer may be different than what we ask for.  Our fallen nature allows us to deviate from what God would have us do.  And we're able to delude ourselves that we're still right with God, even though we've stopped asking Him.

Now, what I've said isn't intended to create guilt or action because of guilt.  Although guilt can be a strong motivator, it only produces temporary results.  We've all experienced guilt and seen how long it gets us to behave properly.  About as long as we know someone is watching.  So, let's consider prayer in a different way.

When we know we're loved by someone and we care about them, we want to be around them, share our inner secrets with them, hear what they like, etc.  Think of God as the best friend we've ever had. And we're up late, talking in the dark like a couple of teenagers, sharing the things that are important to us.  God does that through His Word, which is easier to understand than some preachers make it.  But prayer is our side of that personal chat.

Yes, God hates sin.  And He's not thrilled with our sinning.  But what I know of God tells me that He's more concerned with our motivation than what we do.  A person asking for a Cadillac and a lot of money isn't always wrong.  The Bible never said money was evil.  It said the love of money was evil.  So, the man asking for that Cadillac and a lot of money because he wanted to self indulge is wrong.  The woman asking for a Cadillac and a lot of money to bless others may be asking for the wrong things for the circumstances, but God is pleased with the thought behind the prayer and will still answer appropriately.

Remember my favorite verse:

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Prayer gives us the opportunity to seek necessities and, more importantly, relationship.  What are you seeking, today?  And from whom?

1 comment:

  1. Bill it really took me along time to learn this . It is more about what I need (from God's perspective) verses what I want. I also see prayer as trying to position myself with his will for my life or with what he is already doing.