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Are we praying amiss?

Karen Stevens

James 4:3 – “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  

How often do we pray for things that don’t have anything to do with our immediate needs?  

Jesus walked this earth and never prayed for people’s conveniences.  

We pray “help my son win his soccer game, help me to get this new and better job, help me buy a new wardrobe, etc.”  

Jesus prayed for food, healing, demons to leave, water to wine because His mother made Him, salvation, God’s will, tax money, people to rise from the dead, forgiveness, guidance, rebuking the wind, blessings, curses as in the fig tree and in the church when He turned the tables over, but never for selfish reasons.  

I always wondered why I would pray for my son’s team to win, knowing full well there were Christian Mom’s on the other team praying the same thing.  I knew God wouldn’t play favorites hence the scripture from James that states we “ask amiss” that we can spend it on our pleasures.  

Our pleasure being that our children outshine all the others, or we have the latest and greatest toy.  

What God wants us to do is be concerned about others for their salvation, the ones that are not as fortunate as we are, or for those that minister to others, or Christian education, etc.  

That does not mean we should give our money to fools, such as people who do not work (not the ones that lost their job, but the ones that just don’t want to).  We should not give to people who will not educate themselves in God’s word in order to have the wisdom to make good sound decisions, etc.  

The Bible says you are throwing your pearls before swine if you give to these types of people.  

What this verse is saying is that the gospel is holy and good, but we can expect to encounter some people who will not see the value of it.  In fact, they will ridicule it and despise you for presenting it to them.  

The verse states not to provoke such people to mock the holy gospel.  

Christians should know when to stop speaking when you get the sense that the person doesn’t want to hear the gospel.  Respect their wishes and leave them alone; otherwise, you are giving them the opportunity to mock what is holy.  

But this can apply to your money.  

Don’t give money to those who would mock God’s word.  If God doesn’t want us sharing His word with someone because they would mock it, why would He want us to give them money?  

Jesus helped sinners such as Zacchaeus, the tax collector, but Zacchaeus wanted to hear the gospel.  He wanted to change.  

In Matthew 10:14 it states, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”  

In other words, don’t give them the opportunity to mock.  

Somewhere along the ages, we Christians have decided we are supposed to be all-loving and we should be.  But all-loving does not mean allowing people to mistreat God’s holy word.  

If you allow this then you are enabling people to sin.  

Summarizing John 14:15 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  

If those people do not want to be accountable to you, they will not be accountable to God by keeping His commandments, which means they do not love Him.  

You can always walk away and pray for their salvation.  

One day they might surprise you by calling you to pick them up for church.  So, pray for the things that are important to God, which will be pleasing to Him.

 

Karen Y. Stevens is founder of Orange County Christian Writers Guild