You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. – James 4:2b, 3
“Lord, teach us to pray,” the disciples asked Jesus. (Luke 11:1) They had seen Jesus praying often and had seen His prayers answered promptly and miraculously. They wanted to wield that kind of power!
They, on the other hand, had recognized that they did not have the wisdom or the power to pray effectively. They already had a vague idea how not to pray, as I’m guessing most of us have, as well.
I have believed in Jesus for well over half a century, and I have come up with a reliable list of what doesn’t work when it comes to this most powerful force in the universe. (Trust me, there’s a reason I know all of them, with the exception of #10-1/2, which, not being a husband, I got straight from Scripture.)
So here, for your amusement and discernment, is the list of the
TOP TEN WAYS TO GUARANTEE YOUR PRAYERS WON’T GET ANSWERED*:
[10- 1/2 (Married men) Disrespect and mistreat your wife. (I Peter 3:7) ]
10. Give God tiny bits of your leftover time and second-rate resources and reserve the best for other things. Squander your time but hoard your stuff; don’t tithe. (Malachi 3:8-10) Fill your day/mind with secular media nonstop, so God can’t get a word in edgewise. (Romans 12:2)
9. Avoid that person you’ve been having a problem with, or who has a problem with you. (Matthew 5:23 & 24)
8. Accuse God of not understanding how important this is; He’s just not as smart as you are. (Isaiah 55: 8 & 9) Believe that health and wealth are the most important things, and if you aren’t healthy and wealthy, God must not care about you. (II Corinthians 12:7-10)
7. Ask once. Then if nothing happens right away, give up. Say, “See? I knew it wouldn’t work.” (Luke 18:1)
6. After saying “Amen,” immediately tell yourself all the reasons God’s probably not going to answer. For extra assurance, tell others, too. (James 1:6 & 7)
5. Keep God confined to one small area in your life, away from all the everyday events and far from any guilty pleasures, bad habits, and secret sins; He wouldn’t want to be around all that stuff, anyway. (Psalm 66:18)
4. Make a list of all the bad things that have been done to you, and who did it. Memorize it and recite it often. Share it with others and invite them to be offended with you. (Mark 11: 24 & 25)
3. Ignore what God has done for you in the past or complain about the way He did it or about what He hasn’t done. Whatever you do, don’t be grateful! (Philippians 4:6)
2. Ask not what you can do for God; ask what He can do for you. (James 4:3)
… and the Number One way to make sure your prayers don’t get answered [drumroll]:
#1.DON’T PRAY. (James 4:2)
Prayer: Lord, truthfully, we DO want to see our prayers answered, but we confess we do not always want the same things You do. Give us the right attitudes and desires for the things You long to give us. May we desire to know You and make You known. May we seek to know You more intimately every day – to see Your face, hear Your voice, feel Your embrace, and have our hearts beat in sync with Yours. Give us hearts like Yours, even if that means having our hearts broken with what breaks Your heart. Give us the right motives and priorities. (Give us wisdom!) Help us to draw ever closer to You, until we are one with You and can truly say, “THY will be done.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
*Excerpted from my book BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?)