Devotion for April 17, 2023

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)

Right motives. The reason you pray is much more important than the words you say. The motive is the why behind the what. And having a pure heart that loves God and loves people is always acceptable to the Lord. On the other hand, selfishness is unacceptable, revenge is unacceptable, manipulation and control are unacceptable, jealousy is unacceptable, pride is unacceptable, and praying to win the lottery is unacceptable (please do not send me emails on that comment!). In fact, anything that’s selfishly based is an unacceptable motive.

Somebody once asked a little boy if he said his prayers every night. He thought about it for a second and replied, “No, some nights I don’t need anything.” Sound familiar? The first and foremost reason for prayer is to develop an intimate relationship with God. Think about it: How long do you think your marriage or any relationship would last if you only contacted or saw them if you needed something? Not very long, right? The same principle applies to prayer.

Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). When you focus on “abiding” in Christ, you will get a response to your “asking”. James writes, “Your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.” The truth is, we’re innately self-centered. That’s why we need to purify our hearts on a regular basis — and that calls for examining our motives. It may be painful at first, but you must do it if you want to see your prayers answered and to grow in your intimacy with God.

Prayer

Lord, help me in my prayers to You to recognize what is selfish and unacceptable. Fill my life with Your grace and mercy so that my prayers will always be “not my will, but Thine.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay encouraged!

Pastor Mike

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