Ask Rightly

As humans, we are full of questions. We ask: what will this year hold for me? Why has this hard thing happened? How will I get through this? What should I devote my energy to? Sometimes we bring these questions to the Lord and other times we wrestle with them ourselves or search for answers in different places. James chapter 4 is clear about God’s response to our questions. Read the following selection and consider what it means to ask wrongly.
James 4: 1-8
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (NIV, Emphasis added)
When we ask, we ask based on our own desires. This causes us to constantly be disappointed and angry when reality does not match up with the answers that we want. We surround ourselves with a world that tells us what we should want and we begin to believe that voice. This is what Scripture calls “[being] a friend of the world.” When you are young or old it is natural to want what our friends have. Your friends have the newest shoes, toys, technology, or even as an adult: cars, homes, success, and so on. Our desires align with whatever we surround ourselves with. James 4 tells us what God wants from us and what he wants to give us. He wants us to ask for more of Him. He desires to give us grace, His friendship, and His nearness. For this, all we have to do is ask. As we ask rightly, He alters our desires to be in alignment with the good things he has for us. Philippians 2:13 says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (NLT) When we submit our desires to Him, He gives us the desire to do His will. As Psalm 37:4 reminds us, when we delight in the Lord and desire Him, He gives us the good gift of His presence.

Dig Deeper:
What questions are on your mind today? What have you been wanting lately? Do you desire God’s grace and nearness? If not, it is time to ask. Submit the things that “war within you” to the Lord and ask for Him to change your desires.

Thank the Lord for the free gift of His grace and relationship. Remind yourself that this is the greatest gift you could receive. 

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