What do most of our prayers consist of? Usually it’s “give me this or give me that.”
How often do we pray? More than likely, with most Christians, we pray when we’re in trouble or want something.
I was reading a book the other day written by a respected Bible teacher. He said something that really got my attention. Jesus’ concern toward us is always a spiritual matter. That isn’t to say that He isn’t concerned about our material needs.
“25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
Now notice verse thirty three, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This is where He wants our thoughts.
When I was going through a trying experience nearly thirty years ago, I “claimed” every verse in the Bible that had anything to do with “ask and it shall be given you.” For example:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)
I even considered that maybe my faith was wavering.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6)
In desperation, I also considered the following:
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3)
Now this is only a sampling of the verses I turned to, but turned to I did.
I had all kinds of thoughts. For example:
· Is God listening?
· Am I short on faith?
· Why isn’t He doing something?
· I must not be worthy.
· Will He ever answer me?
· And I could go on and on …
The thing is God was listening. He was working things out for my good.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
He was way ahead of me. I just didn’t know it. However, there was something I was missing, and He allowed me to go through some trying times, perhaps longer than necessary, because I just wasn’t getting it. I’m a slow learner. I have repeated the classes several times in the “School of Hard Knocks.” Eventually though, I got it.
The Lord wanted me to,
“4Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psalms 37:4-7)
Now allow me to get right to the crux of the matter. When I delight myself also in the Lord, the desires of my heart will often change from what they were. My main desire will be a closer and closer fellowship with Him. In other words, I start taking my eyes off me and become focused on Him.
Often when we read, “Ask and it shall be given you …” we are thinking in terms of our “want list,” but Jesus is thinking in terms of our “need list.” There are a whole fist full of charlatan preachers and teachers who will use verses like this to advance their greedy schemes in the false “prosperity gospel.” They are leading people 180 degrees away from where God wants His children. The Lord wants us to seek His “face,” not His “hand” for hand-outs.
Even though my prayers at that time were for a legitimate need, He still wanted me to see that I was missing the real issue, that being, my need to seek His face. God wants us to know Him … bottom line.
If you are going through an experience where you really need God’s help for a legitimate need, by all means go to Him in prayer, but understand that He most of all wants you to know Him. He will help you, in His way and in His time, but He wants you to come close to Him. Know Him.
If you are one of those who are praying for frivolous concerns, grow up. For example, don’t pray for a job, and then spend your time sitting on the couch waiting for it to come to you. Get out and look for it. Don’t be asking God that you be blessed with the winning lottery ticket. If you have that much money to blow, put the money He gave you to good use and help those who cannot help themselves. Too many Christians are like small children, always asking for things they don’t really need, and avoiding those things they do.
Often teenagers don’t want to talk to their parents unless they want something. Are you one of those Christians who are still a teenager in spirit? You only go to the Father when you want something? Otherwise, He never hears from you?
Christians who are still children or teenagers in spirit are hurting the cause of Christ and need to grow up. God the Father is not in the business of handing out pacifiers to baby Christians who won’t grow up. He expects us to grow in our Christian life, and the only way is to know Him. Being a Christian is not going to God with “give me, give me,” like so many do. Look, I’ve done the same thing, but our Father wants us to come close to Him. When we seek His face, we start the growing process. To continue our Christian growth, we must seek His face daily in Word and prayer.
My articles are posted at “Pre-Rapture Commentary” http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com/ and many are also posted at “Rapture Ready” http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html.