Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unanswered Prayer or "Just What I Always Wanted! How Did You Know?"

Jas 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Jas 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Jas 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
Jas 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

It is gift giving (and receiving) time of year again. There is probably nothing which permeates the crevasses of our minds for these 3 to 4 weeks as much as getting the right gifts for the right people.

The Father in heaven is no different. He is all about gifts. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

The best gifts He has for us are the gifts of answered prayers. He delights in doing so.

What a tremendously practical epistle Pastor James gives us. No doubt, his own, very large church (the one started by Jesus) experienced all of these issues he addresses. Issues which had keep his people (and us) from getting our prayers answered.

I would suppose that he pastored several members who were having problems getting their prayers answered because they were tying the Lord's hands so He could not dispense needed blessings to them for their carnality.

Here, James gives several hindrances to answered prayer.

1. Relational problems due to personal conflicts. Vs 1. They experienced infighting because they could not control the flesh as it warred against their spirit. This is often the case. People pick at others because they have issues within themselves; hidden sins, bad habits, rotten attitudes, carnal acting out. If the heart is wrong, relationships will suffer. the result of all this is that their prayers were not being answered. Could this be our problem even now? Clean up the inside and watch your relationships sweeten up.

2. Lust, anger and aggression. Vs 2. These people were acting like children of the devil and wondering why the Father wasn't opening the windows of heaven in reward. Get a clue! God NEVER blesses sin.

3. They weren't praying, really praying! Vs 2. Answered prayer is dependent on preparation. We have to get ourselves into a place of blessing before we can be blessed. Then we have to bathe matters in prayer before we can expect answers. We have to walk properly before God, and then kneel humbly before His throne. When our heart is right, our life is right, when our life is right, our desires are right, when our desires are right, we have the right to ask. When we ask, we will receive!

4. Missing the mark. Vs 3. If I am praying for a Ferrari and the Lord knows I need a Kia, guess what? My prayers aren't going to be answered. Not according to my desires anyway. And I praise the Lord for that. Sometimes we ask the Lord to move that mountain when the need is for grace to climb the mountain or wisdom to go around it. I have learned that God's answers to our prayers are much wiser than our passionate pleas for ease, comfort and satisfaction.

5. Worldly conformity. Vss 4 & 5.
How dare we live like the world and want heaven too! We want all the world has to offer and expect heaven's smile. Ain't happening folks! God demands that we come out from the world, separate ourselves from it's looks, it's cares, It's wickedness. Then, and only then, does He say, "I will receive you unto myself." We are confronted with a choice, friendship with the world or friendship with God. There is no middle ground. God says that friendship with one makes you an automatic enemy of the other. Remember Lot's wife?

Verse 5 clearly tells us that God's Spirit within us is jealous over us. He wants us exclusively for Himself. The words "lusteth to envy" are curious words expressing His strong desire for our allegiance. Who or what has yours?

6. Pride. Vs 6. God wants to give to His children, He is just waiting for us to get our acts cleaned up, get serious on our knees, line our desires up with His and humble ourselves. When we meet these simple requirements, Heaven's windows will open and you will have so many prayers answered you won't even know how to contain all the blessings.

Verses 7 through 11 reiterate these principles for answered prayers.

Father of lights, we ask that our lives would be such that you would take joy in answering our prayers. We wish to be on the same page with you in our desires. The gifts we want from your hand include the salvation of souls, your blessings upon your church, an increased ability to give to your work and those around us whom you lead us to help. We pray that missions work would grow. We ask for grace and strength to build your kingdom. We ask for greater hearts to worship you properly. Keep us near to your heart. Deliver us from the world's clutches that we may not become victims of it's evils. Give us the provisions which enable us to better serve you, and nothing which will distract us from that effort. May we have safety, protection and guidance as we carry on your work.

Everything else we may ask for is secondary, merely gravy on top of the tremendously vital things we have just prayed for. We watch and expect and give thanks for your answers.

In Jesus' name, Amen!

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