I know what God wants me to do. But I don’t want to do it. Yet, I want a lot of other things, but why should He bless me with those things if I’m not going to listen to Him?
I hope so. After all, I can’t be the only one who refuses to do what God called him to do. Yet, it sure feels like it is only me. Though I know this isn’t true. Here is something else I know. I cannot refuse God any longer. Here’s why:
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures.” (James 4:3, NASB)
It was in this simple passage that the depth of my disobedience was revealed to me. In fact, it was this passage that unlocked some extraordinary revelations for me.
I want to share this with you. Not for myself, but to help others who feel the way I do. Perhaps, this will unlock changes in your life that could help you experience God more and see the amazing blessings in your life.
You ask and do not receive
So often we come to Jesus in prayer and ask for things. More often than not, many of us ask and ask and ask. When the day is done, sometimes we receive the answer we are looking for in our prayers. And other times we don’t.
First, I want to assure you that it’s okay to ask God for things. In fact, He wants us to ask Him for things. It is His desire for us to come to Him and trust Him for the things we desire:
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14–15, NIV)
So, we know we can ask and He wants to give us the things we ask for, but sometimes He doesn’t. Why is that?
Because you ask with the wrong motives
Looking back at the scripture from 1 John 5:14–15, there is a little portion in there that we need to focus on for a second. It tells us what motives we need to have in order to see prayers answered and things received.
“that if we ask anything according to his will.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)
Sometimes we ask for things that aren’t according to God’s will. When we do this, we don’t get an answer. Or we get something so radically different that it feels like unanswered prayer.
We must work out in our requests what it is that we want and if it lines up with God’s will, then we can see about all the other things we desire:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, ESV)
You see, God does want to give us the things we want. But we need to seek His Kingdom and His will first. Then the other desires of our hearts may be added to our lives next.
When we ask God for something we need to obey Him too
We just took a little journey on why James 4:3 rocks me when it comes to obeying God. When I look back to the things I have asked God for, I feel as though many of them have been left unanswered.
When I heard this verse, there was an authority in the message that reminded me of the importance of obeying God first. What was so crazy to me was that I realized I have not been obeying God in an area where He explicitly called me into:
Seeking His kingdom and will first.
I think many Christians don’t seek God’s kingdom or His will first. We go to God as if He is a vending machine for our prayers. Then, when He doesn’t respond, we get upset and don’t know why our prayers are unanswered.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to step into the things He has called, commanded, and proclaimed for us to do first. When we do this, we can unlock some of these other requests we have made.
Motives. Motives get me. Even writing this, I struggle with my motives for obeying God. Do I want to obey God to get what I want? Or do I want to obey God because God is good?
Honestly, in writing this piece, I am obeying God because it is part of what he called me into. Whether or not I get anything else matters, and doesn’t matter. Part of me wants to do what God says so I get the other things.
Yet, my deepest self wants to do what God says because I know it is right. This is the part that I grab onto when I feel this tension. It is the part where I want to look back on my life and say, “I did what God called me to do and I’m glad that I did.”
What about you? Are you listening and obeying God?