“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)
Another obstacle to answered prayer is selfishness. In the Lord’s Prayer, you won’t find the words “I”, or “me”, or “my”, or “mine”. What you will find instead, is: “Give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses; deliver us from evil” (see Matthew 6:11-13). Are you getting the idea? The man who prays, “Lord bless me, my wife and two children: us four and no more,” is praying in a selfish manner and isn’t praying in God’s will who loves the whole world.
Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). But that Scripture isn’t a blank check: God’s answer to selfish prayers is always no. James writes, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).
Maybe you’re thinking, “The Bible says if I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me whatever my heart desires” (see Psalm 37:4). Yes, but your desires must be in harmony with God’s will. God blessed Abraham so that he could become a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2-3).
God knows what you want, and He also knows why you want it. Is it only for your own comfort and convenience, or also to fulfil His purposes? Only when you have answered that question honestly, can you pray with confidence. When you look out only for your own interest, only one person is working on your behalf — you! But when your goal is to bless others, God goes to work and answers your prayer in ways you never imagined possible. Try it, and see for yourself!
Heavenly Father, help me remember that in all my prayers, I submit to “Your will be done” and to ask Your direction in seeking and doing Your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.