Janna Rust is a Professional Coach, Trainer and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them. For more information, visit her other blog at www.purposefulleadershipblog.com.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. - James 4:3
God gives good things to his children, tells us to ask for our desires and encourages us to be persistent in our asking. However, just because we ask God for something doesn't mean we will get it. What we receive from God is contingent upon our motives for asking.
Sometimes our prayers are a waste of time.
Okay, maybe not a total waste of time. Stick with me here. Coming to God in prayer is an act of submission to God and acknowledges our inability to do everything for ourselves. That's a good thing. Pouring our hearts out to our Creator is also always a good thing and certainly no waste of time because in praying we draw closer to him. But how long is too long to pray for something without considering that maybe, just maybe, God doesn't want us to have that thing we ask for?
At some point we need to question whether or not we are praying with the right motive.
Praying with the right motive simply means that what we ask for aligns with God's big picture plan. God's plan (his will) for us is pretty simple. He wills that we be conformed to his image and that we all accept the gift of eternal life in the form of belief on Jesus for salvation. He also wills that we do all things for his glory and for the greater good of his kingdom.
He does not desire that all of us have material wealth, fantastic health, or friction-free relationships on this earth. He doesn't promise us all of the various forms of abundance we feel entitled to. God promises abundance to his children, but guarantees abundance only in eternity, not here on earth.
How well do your prayers align with the will of God? If you've been praying for something for awhile without getting the answer you want, examine your motives. Are you asking for your will to be done or God's will to be done? Ask God for new ways to pray about the object of your prayers. Eventually, you'll learn and like his will...and then you will get what you want.
"Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement. -Luke 9:44-45
One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history is in the movie "A Few Good Men" where Jack Nicholson's character exclaims in the court room "You can't handle the truth!". While this was merely a movie, the statement still rings true in real life. A lot of times, we can't handle the truth.
Jesus knew this. In Luke 9:44-45, while the disciples were marvelling over all the miracles Jesus recently performed, Jesus told them in plain language He would be captured, yet they didn't understand what He meant. They didn't understand because God kept the truth from them. They couldn't handle the truth.
I find it interesting that even though they didn't understand, they were afraid to ask for clarification. Instead, they quickly changed the subject and started arguing among themselves about who was the best disciple!
Sometimes its just not our time to understand. Often we pray and pray, asking for wisdom in a certain situation but the solution eludes us. Other times, we really don't want to gain understanding because we change the subject and worry over more trivial matters, just as the disciples did.
To gain understanding, we must be able to handle the truth. Spiritual maturity is key and timing is everything. So the next time you are at a loss regarding the answers to all of your "Why, God?" questions, ask yourself (and God) what He wants you to learn about yourself through your current circumstance. God will tell you the truth when you've matured enough to do something meaningful with it.
Connect learning with living:
- What situation are you questioning in your life?
- How would knowing the "why" of the situation change your future?
- How diligently are you seeking the truth of the situation about you?