James 4:3 - You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Have you ever wondered about the purity of your motives when praying? As Christians we pray at all sorts of times—getting up in the morning, driving to work, sitting down to eat, taking a shower, mowing the lawn, and so on. The danger in this multi-tasking prayer style is that we're not truly focused on our communication. In fact, we may even be heaping up "empty phrases" (see Matthew 6:7) as Jesus puts it when referring to those who pray for show, or without real sincerity
In addition to being distracted when we pray this way, it's possible our prayers are all about us. As when we were children, we might just ask God to meet our own needs. Unfortunately, as adults, our requests might not be much different. Our petitions may sound more sophisticated, but they may still be inwardly focused and self-promoting.
How corrupt is our sinful state that even in our prayers to God the old Adam rears his ugly, self-centered head. Consequently, we may pray with little more than a barely disguised begging for God's bounty, hoping He'll answer according to our will and, as the story goes, make all our dreams come true.
The bottom line is this: it's not all about us. Though the luxuries of this world may appear to hold all we want or need, God knows this is not so. The apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3:2). Then, by the power of God's Holy Spirit, through faith we can put off our old self and put on the new—created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave transform the lives of those who believe in Him for salvation. When we pray, let our words be humble and our thoughts centered on the magnitude of what God has done for us through the redemptive work of His Son.
Out of praise and adoration, let us offer to God prayers from a heart devoted to Him alone.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remind me that You give only what is good to Your children. Help me to live—and pray—as You would have me do. And teach me to seek those things that are above. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by a volunteer from LHM's Vietnam ministry center.
1. About what things do you most often pray to God about?
2. Do you pray in traditional, formula-type prayers (The Lord's Prayer, meal and bedtime prayers you've said for years), or do you focus on talking to Him, one on One, in a more personal way?
3. How much of your prayer life has a self-focus? How much is focused on others?
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