Intentions in Prayer

“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 (NIV)

Man makes many requests before God. Even those, who would otherwise not come before Him in prayer, are not above calling upon Him for help in their hour of need. How many students, before they enter the exam hall, beg God to help them pass? How many people, wanting riches, ask God to rain wealth upon them from above? But how many of these people, when their requests are not granted, become angry and bitter with God? We misinterpret God’s love to mean that He is bound to grant every desire of our hearts. But this is not the case and like spoilt children, we whine and complain when God doesn’t give us what we believe to be rightfully what we require.

God knows the hidden intent of every prayer that comes before Him. He knows whether we are coming before Him with sincerity and humility, or with selfishness and malice. If our hearts are not aligned with Christ, and His perfect standards and desires for our lives, then we cannot expect Him to answer prayers that are tainted by our own corrupt nature. Just imagine if He granted every prayer that came out of the mouths of those who were not reconciled to Him and had no genuine desire to be. The world would plunge into chaos! Like any good parent, God will withhold from a child that which will only end up bringing harm to himself and to others around him.

God is no genie that grants our every wish. He is our Heavenly Father; sovereign over all, and who acts in accordance to what is best for us and for all His creation according to His perfect wisdom. When we allow Christ to dwell in our hearts by accepting that He died for our sins and that through His resurrection we have eternal life, we will become aware of our intentions when we pray. The Holy Spirit, which comes to reside in us, will convict us when our thoughts behind our prayers are not in line with what God expects of us and our relationship with Him. Can we bring our seemingly small requests to God? Of course! He loves us, and is interested in every detail of our lives whether good or bad. Yet Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we do this, our desires will automatically align with God’s wonderful will for our lives and He will grant them according to His flawless timing.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.