“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 stood in the dugout awaiting the first pitch, I assured him I would not only pray, but would also pray without ceasing. That sounded like a great answer at the time, but as I took my seat on the bench I was unsure how to even begin. Exactly what kind of prayers should I pray? In my selfish heart I wanted his team to win, but I also couldn’t help but question whether God really cared about who won or lost. Just because I knew the players and coaches in my dugout by their first names, did that make it right for me to lift up selfish prayers? Doesn’t God love and care about the team in the other dugout? 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 a much bigger picture. There are many other ways to win than having more runs 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 that afternoon. Not only do I believe God heard my prayer, I believe He answered it.
Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing my prayers. Give me a selfless and humble heart today. In Jesus Name, Amen.