You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3
If James says there is a wrong way to pray, a wrong way to ask, then it follows that there is a right way to ask, a right way to pray.
God’s reception of and interaction with prayer is conditional. One condition to God not hearing your prayers is envy.
Envy affects fellowship with the body and fellowship with God. Envy causes you to murder, fight and quarrel – even if you only do so in the hypocritical confines of your own heart. Envy causes you to demand things from God that are self-serving and self-glorifying.
You cannot be an envious, ungrateful, quarrelsome and covetousness person and expect God to listen to you. He will not. Envy is a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities. It’s not just wanting what someone else has but envy leads to negative feelings about the person and your own circumstances. Bitterness. Ingratitude. Inordinate longings. Strife. Quarrels and fights. Envy unsettles relationships and it unsettles prayer. Envy creates negative feelings about the person who has what you are coveting. It’s hard to prefer another or to think well of others when you hate them for what your coveting. Envy grabs hold of our desire for a better spouse, better job, more money, less belly fat, better cars, jobs, friends, families, homes and jobs and inspires a host of unholy thoughts and actions in response.
There is something we need to address in parts. Something that is difficult to hear, difficult to receive and against the spirit of our age. Against the pop theology so prevalent in the modern church, but it effects our fellowship with the living God and our day to day lives.
We pray and we feel like God doesn’t hear us. Prayer can be a source of doubt. The outrageous promises of Jesus in Prayer receive indignant uncertainty from most of us – mystified frustration from the rest. Continue reading “Why Won’t God Hear My Prayer?”
So often we teach that abiding in Christ means spending time with Him in His Word and prayer. In so doing, we may tend to neglect a proper emphasis on Christ Himself. It is not the Word of God itself or even prayer that supplies the power and grace to live the Christian life. It is Christ who is our life (see Colossians 3: 4). The Word of God and prayer are the primary means by which the Holy Spirit mediates Christ’s life to us. But we must never so emphasize the Word and prayer, which are God’s instruments of grace, that we lose sight of Christ, who is the source of our life. We must actively “abide in Christ”; that is, we must look to Him by faith to sustain us, nurture us, and provide all that we need to live a life pleasing to God and worthy of Him. When we come to Christ for salvation, we renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. In the same way, as we live the Christian life, we should continue to renounce any confidence in ourselves, placing our trust entirely in Him. But this does not mean we should become passive in a “let go and let God” approach to the Christian life. Rather, we are called to a dependence on Christ, as well as a dependence on the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to mediate the life of Christ to us, enabling us to live the kind of lives that are pleasing to God.
“Your heart can become a prayer factory because, like Jesus, you are completely dependent. You needed God ten minutes ago; you need him now. Instead of hunting for the perfect spiritual state to lift you above the chaos, pray in the chaos. As your heart or your circumstances generate problems, keep generating prayer. You will find that the chaos lessens.
We see this pattern in Paul’s advice to the Philippians about anxiety.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
…When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.”