(James 4:2,3 NLT) …Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
Today we continue our series entitled, “The Benefits of Prayer and Fasting,” with an emphasis on “The Power of Prayer.” The point I will make today is that while God already knows what we have need of before we ask, He still requires us to ask. Why? Because He wants His performance in our lives to be an act of our will and not just His. He wants us to want Him. He wants us to welcome His involvement. Heaven wants to invade the earth, but God wants us to welcome the invasion. And this does not happen with empty repetitive prayers. This happens by having a true relationship with the Father.
Let’s start with something Jesus said while He was teaching about prayer. Jesus said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:7,8). I will share a few quick thought about this:
- Don’t pray empty repetitive prayers. Growing up I was taught to pray “canned” prayers where I simply read or repeated a certain prayer over and over again. While I want to be very careful here, and avoid offense, I can tell you that there is no evidence in scripture that any believer (Jesus or otherwise) ever prayed this way. The Father wants to communicate with us and He was us to communicate with Him. Think of your communication with Him like your communication with anyone else. Would you ever think of walking up to someone you want to have a conversation with and simply reading or repeating something over and over again? That ritual may help you say “I did it,” but it will not yield results. Jesus specifically spoke against this practice.
- Don’t think that because God knows about it you don’t need to pray. If you think that once God knows about your situation that You don’t need to pray, then you will never pray, because God knows everything. He knows your thoughts before you think them, your actions before you perform them, and your prayers before you pray them. But His foreknowledge does not obviate you of your responsibility. Jesus was fully aware of God’s omniscience, but He still commanded us to pray.
The Father knows what you need before you ask, but you still need to ask. This is where the words of James come in. James teaches us that we don’t have what we want, because we have failed to communicate our desires to the Father in prayer. In the next chapter Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). But what if you don’t ask? You won’t receive. What if you don’t seek? You won’t find. What if you don’t knock? The door will not be opened to you.
The Father requires us to pray. Yes, He already knows what we need and He already knows what He wants to bless us with, but He is looking for our active participation and agreement in the process.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
- The Father expects and requires us to pray. We have not, because we ask not.
- Prayer should be an open dialogue (transmit and receive) of productive communication, not a vain monologue where we repeat empty words.
- The Father’s foreknowledge of your situation does not absolve you from your responsibility to pray. His knowledge does not guarantee His action without your petition.
- The Father is looking for you to welcome His involvement in your life. If the Father simply went around performing His will in our lives without our involvement, then we would be puppets and not free moral agents.
Father, this is a season of expectation for me. I expect more, because I have a greater understanding of Your ways. Never again will I idly sit by and foolishly expect You to get involved in my situation, just because You know about it. You clearly know what I need before I ask, but You still require me to ask. Therefore, I will. Since I will ask, in accordance with Your will, it will be given to me. Since I am committed to seek, I will find. And Since I will always knock, You will be faithful to open the door. I won’t give You an excuse for NOT operating in my life due to a lack of prayer. I will pray to You, in the name of Your Son Jesus, in faith, not wavering, without a doubt, with full confidence that You will bring to pass Your perfect will for my life! I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!