“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)
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
There are various reasons why our prayers go unanswered by the Lord. In James 4:3 we read that one reason we do not reach heaven with our prayers is because our motive for seeking something is wrong. James is not saying that the thing sought is sinful or wrong but the reason(s) why we wish the thing is (are) wrong.
When a Christian woman is married to a non Christian man she rightly prays for his conversion. God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to light and life in Jesus (2 Peter 3:9). So the wife is asking for something good. But if her primary motivation is not the glory of God that would be seen in her husband’s conversion but she prays because she wants an easier life that should come from him being a Christian, then her motive is wrong.
We need to examine our hearts when we come asking good things from the Lord. A little self examination is as healthy for us spiritually as too much self examination is hurtful.
We live in a day of assumptions. We assume too much at times and it is not good for us. Christians can assume their motives are pure; they can assume the Lord never plans for us to have hardship; we can assume that God’s purpose in our lives is to make everything happy and fun. Some people unwittingly assume that God is some sort of a celestial Santa Claus dropping presents from heaven on us. They have no idea what to do with a verse like Hebrews 12:29 (NIV)
“…for our God is a consuming fire.”
Healthy self reflection on why we ask for certain things might give us reason to adjust our expectation from the Lord. Do not stop asking for good things but ask because you wish the Lord to be glorified through you receiving that good thing.
Be encouraged to ask because of our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:11 (NIV)
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”