You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly,
to spend it on your passions.
– James 4:3 (ESV)
It was a big game and as his team took the field, I asked the coach if there was anything I could do for him. His answer was quick and to the point, “Pray!” As we headed for the sideline to get ready for the opening kickoff, I assured him I would not only pray, but I would pray without ceasing. That sounded like a great answer at the time but, as I stood on the sideline waiting for the game to begin, I was unsure how to begin. Exactly what kind of prayers should I pray? In my selfish heart, I wanted his team to win, but does God really care which team wins? Just because I know the players on my sideline by their first names, does that make it right for me to lift up selfish prayers? Doesn’t God love and care about the team on the other side of the field too? Aren’t they praying as well?
Prayer can be simple and complex at the same time. Anytime we need a good dose of honesty, we can count on James to give it to us. He tells us “you don’t have because you don’t ask.” That sounds easy enough, so we pray, “God, give us a win” and wait for Him to deliver. But, if we read on we discover James wasn’t finished. He goes on to tell us that God doesn’t deliver when we ask selfishly or for our own pleasure. In other words, God knows our heart when we pray. God sees the bigger picture. There are many other ways to win than simply on the scoreboard. It was then that I prayed for all the players and coaches. I prayed God would keep them safe from injury. I thanked God for the gifts and talents He had given them to play and coach the game. Most important of all, I prayed God would be glorified in everything that took place on the field and the sidelines that night. Not only did God hear my prayers, He answered them.
Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing my prayers. Keep me humble and teach me to be selfless in my heart. Amen.