We are not talking about saying please and thank-you here, we are talking about doing the right asking, in prayer.  We all know times when we don’t seem to get answers to our prayers, some of the most frustrating times in your spiritual walk.  Apparently the believers that James was writing to were having the same experience.  In James 4:2-3, he tells us that “you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask, but you do not receive because you ask amiss…”

So when do we ask “amiss?”

  1. When we pray, but it is not in agreement with His Word.

  2. When we ask for the right thing, but we are so full of fear and anxiety that we are not asking in faith. By this I mean that we are not asking out of a position of faith, but from a position of fear.  It is faith that draws God into action, not fear.  A spirit of fear is not the right motivation (or heart) behind our prayers.

So what we ask is important, as well as how we ask.

We can fervently pray while fearful, scared, anxious and in a desperate situation.  In these times, my prayers were motivated by fear and not based on taking the promises of God and being confident in those.

John 5:14 says that “this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

askreceiveThat word confidence refers to a boldness, an assurance, total confidence that knows that when I have prayed:

  1. I have asked according to His will and I know what His will is as I abide in Him and
  2. I have asked Him to do something that is 100% in accordance with it. The difference is praying according to scripture instead of praying out of a fearful heart.

The Bible is the solid ground you stand on when you pray.  On this solid ground you can be bold and confident and you need not pray out of fear and anxiety.  So pay attention to what you pray and how you pray:

God listens to His Word and responds to faith.  When He hears His word prayed from a heart of faith, He moves to do His will.

Here is my summary on prayer being answered by God:

  • Sometimes our prayers are YES, and it is Yes straight away. Thank you Lord!
  • Sometimes it is YES, but not Yet. These are often the ones that are the hardest to understand.  Our prayers are in line with God’s will, they are the desires of His heart, but it is not the right time yet.  God needs to bring about His full purposes in His time, before the fulfillment of my prayer can happen.  In these seasons we have to wait and trust Him.
  • Sometimes it is YES, but not Yet because I need to make some changes. Sometimes my prayers are in line with His will, but my faith is not there.  Or my attitudes are not right.  Or there is sin in my life.  Whatever it is, as I abide, it is sure that He will show me what it is that needs to change in me.
  • Sometimes it is NO, because God has something better planned for me and I haven’t had the sense yet to figure it out. My ignorance, foolishness, blindness, or just not abiding means I haven’t seen the good and wonderful stuff He has in store for me yet.  Although He can give me what I want, He longs to give me so much more, the abundance that He has planned for me, because He is a good Father.
  • Sometimes it is NO. Because it is not His will or because what I am asking for is not good for me.  In time, with the transformation of my mind in His word, things may become more clear to me, but until then, I have to trust in the goodness of His heart.

phil 4v19God longs to answer our prayers, let’s ask.  Let us ask with a right heart, for the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and achieve much, James 5:16.

Father, help me to abide in you, to spend time getting to know You so that I know the rhythms of your heart, your purposes, your will.  May I know You so well that my very prayers echo the desires of Your heart, for myself and for other people.  Help me to accept you overall timing and wisdom in all answers to prayer. 

If you enjoyed this post, also read:

We Got to Pray

The Amen of Faith and Zeal

Dad Already Knows

Invade My Space, then Ask.