July 22, 2021
Scripture: You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 ESV
Observation: Asking and receiving, Jesus and his disciples have much to say about this exchange. Jesus tells us that the Father knows what we need before we ask him (Matthew 6:8) and that because he is a good Father, he will give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:12). James, earlier in his letter, tells us that the Father gives generously without reproach (without rebuking us), but our part is to ask in faith and not to second guess ourselves (1:5-7). In the above verse, he clarifies that when we do not receive according to our requests, we seek things that are not helpful to us. The disciple John contends that receiving good gifts is predicated on a desire to please our Lord and obey him (1 John 3:22). Lastly, John notes that we can be confident that he listens to our requests and grants them when we pray according to his will (1 John 5:14-15).
Takeaway: Asking and receiving are conditional, but for our good. Our gracious and loving Father, who gives only good gifts, is not going to relent to our unwise and selfish prayer requests. Still, he desires that we seek him earnestly, trusting that he will grant us our requests when they align with what is best for us and others. It’s a process that requires patience as we mature in our faith and learn to ask for the right things. And his grace abounds each step of the way.
Prayer: Father God, teach us how to ask and receive by faith according to your will. And grant us insight into our motives when we ask for the wrong things and grace to exercise patience as we mature in our thinking. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling