You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure. James 4:2c-3 (NLT)
Do you seek God’s approval for what you already plan to do? James addresses the two most common barriers to answered prayer:
1) Not asking God.
Imagine getting to Heaven, only to find all kinds of stuff with tags on each item that says, “Not asked for.” As ridiculous as this sounds, James is saying that, perhaps, one of the reasons you don’t get what you want is because you simply don’t ask God. False humility assumes that God wouldn’t give me what I want, or that I don’t deserve it, so why bother asking. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus couldn’t have made the process simpler. He said,
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
What is it you really want that you simply have not asked God for in your life? You don’t have to bargain or justify your reasons; just ask God. He is a loving Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. In fact, Jesus adds,
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV)
2) Asking for the wrong things or for the wrong reasons.
And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong – you only want what will give you pleasure. James 2:3 (NLT)
This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want to give us things that will bring us pleasure. I’ve known people afraid to ask God for His will in their lives because they were convinced it would be something they would hate doing. God is not a celestial killjoy! Why would He give you passions, desires, and talents only to waste them? He delights in seeing you fulfill your destiny! Nothing is more exciting than living out of your divine purpose!
How do you overcome these barriers to answered prayer? You’ll experience power in prayer when you align your heart with God’s heart, when you allow God to change your desires to His desires. John tells us in 1 John 3:21-22 that we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.
In chapter 5, he adds,
And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.
If we align our prayers with God’s will, He will listen and answer. Begin praying with confidence, and listen for His answer.