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.

Who Are We Really?

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” -Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

Often we live two lives. The first is lived out in the public realm; how we interact and behave when we are in the presence of other people. By this definition it includes everyone from our friends and those in authority over us, to even our own family members. The second is lived in the private realm. This includes what we think and believe in our individual hearts, and what we do and say when we feel that no one is watching. At times, these two lives can be completely different. What we may present to the world may not necessarily be who we really are. We may perhaps don a mask of piety and righteousness when we move in the public realm, yet go against these very things in the private realm. However, we are sadly mistaken if we think we can maintain a balancing act between these two lives. One will inevitably overpower the other, and it is much more difficult to maintain a façade than it is to act according to one’s own nature.

What is Jesus trying to say in this verse? What does it mean to go into our rooms, close our doors, and pray? He is trying to make a very specific point. God tests our hearts. Though we may say the right things and be full of good deeds when the eyes of others are upon us, He sees right through our disguises. If our hearts are far away from Christ, and are without any intention to conform ourselves to Him, then our outward actions are insincere deceptions; reminding us of our own depravity. The private realm informs the public realm. When we allow the Spirit of Christ to carry out His redemptive work in our lives, we are given a new nature. Through Him our old sinful nature is broken and we are clothed by His righteousness. By surrendering every area of the private realm to Christ’s refining work, He will manifest Himself in the public realm. In doing this God will reward us for our obedience to Him as we live within His perfect will and allow His love to overflow from within us; consuming ourselves and those we come into contact with.

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.

Feeling the Light

“…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” –Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

Today as I was walking downtown, I saw an interesting quote by Rabindranath Tagore posted on a church billboard. Being the huge fan that I am of the Indian poet, I had to stop and take a picture. His quote displayed on the billboard was, “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark”. It got me thinking of my own faith journey and how God has brought me out of those dark moments in my own life. Though initially I may feel discouraged and distraught when trials come along my path, the moment I take my fears and concerns to Him while spending time in His Word, I feel at peace and strengthened in the promise that He will turn my mourning into dancing. By the faith which He perfects in me I am able to feel the light though darkness may be around me.

Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by circumstances around us. We look at ourselves and the struggles we face thinking how will we ever get the strength to endure them. No matter how hard we try, we cannot shake that feeling of hopelessness and despair; becoming weak under the weight of our situations. But Christ came into this world to bring hope and life. When we have allowed Him to enter our hearts and permit Him to work in our lives, we will experience first hand His faithfulness. Resting in the promises found in His Word, He will give us strength in the hope that though sorrow may plague us, they are not permanent. He is always working towards the fulfilment of His perfect plan for our lives and by His love and omnipotence He will turn our weeping into rejoicing. Making that decision to trust in Him is the best choice which we can make and when we have done this He will strengthen our faith so that though the clouds of darkness surround us, we will feel His light; walking boldly in the hope we have through Him.

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.