“You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly,
so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.”
– James 4:3 (Holman Christian Standard)
It was another important game and as the 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 opening kickoff, I was unsure how to even begin. Exactly what kind of prayers should I pray? In my selfish heart, I wanted “my” 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 just as much as he does the one I am standing in the middle of? Aren’t they praying too?
Prayer can be simple and complex at the same time. Anytime we need a good dose of honesty, we can count on James, the half-brother of Jesus, to give it to us. In James 4:2, 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. In the next verse, he tells 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. It didn’t take very long for me to understand that God sees a much 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 that God would keep them safe from injury. I thanked God for the gifts and talents that He had given them to play and coach the game. Most important of all, I prayed that God would be glorified in everything that took place on the field and on the sidelines that night. Not only did God hear that prayer, He answered it.
Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing my prayers. Keep me humble and teach me to be selfless in my heart. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.