The Motive

“You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” James 4:2-3

The Book of James sets the industry standard for statements that embody the twin towers of clear communication. It is filled with the simple and the profound.  Nothing clears the air for prayer like, “You do not have because you do not ask.”

Unasked prayers give full expression to the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy. Simply put, only the unasked prayers remain unanswered. Believing prayer chooses to avoid the paralysis of analysis, by asking the prayer and then waiting for the answer.

Believing prayer involves leaving answers to prayer up to The Father. Prayer warriors don’t wring their hands, obsessing over wouldah, couldah, shouldah. They pray and leave the answer to prayer in God’s capable hands. They let Him sort it out. Like the title to the old 1950’s TV show said, “Father Knows Best.”

Prayer is always answered. The Father’s answers range from yes, no, wait, and my personal favorite, “You have got to be kidding.”  It is possible to live long enough to learn that some of The Father’s greatest gifts to me were not giving me what I wanted when I asked for it. All it takes is one high school reunion for this to make sense. Thank you, Jesus.

Evangelist Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “The only time God doesn’t answer my prayers is when I am on the golf course.” His personal testimony may give us a clue about the right motive for praying.  “Wrong motives” can also be translated “wicked.” Apparently Dr. Graham learned from personal experience that he could not expect God’s guidance when lining up a putt.

Anyone who has ever had a swing with a wicked slice, knows the futility of praying an errant drive back on line and onto the fairway. This kind of praying usually leads to long walks in the tall grass, and life time of “do overs.” FORE!

Jesus prayed to keep His personal will aligned to The Father’s will. In doing so, He revealed the right motive for prayer. The consequences of a wicked life are much greater than a wicked slice. Prayer can realign the former, but I can attest that it won’t do much to improve the latter. Still, when it comes to prayer, TEE IT UP!

Note to self: Don’t despair. God answers prayer. If you don’t get the answer you want. Pray anyway. Praying keeps you in contact with The Father, and His answers realign you to His will for your life. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!

“Our Lord in His teaching on prayer never once referred to unanswered prayer. He said God always answers prayer.” Oswald Chambers