How Do You Pray? Do You Ask & Not Receive?

Today I would like to start with these verses in Matthew 6:6-13 as we ask the question 'how do we pray?' The verses that struck me the most were 7 and 8.
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him".  

Growing up I always thought of the people who led prayers in church as the holy of hollies, these people had looong prayers. Prayers that would put even the most devoted person to sleep. Now I don't think they were hypocrites but their prayers were off putting. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying long prayers are necessarily bad but sometimes they defeat the purpose specifically if they alienate the people they are intended for.

Bullrushes in sunlight by Twix



In these verses we see Jesus speaking directly to us saying you don't need a book worth of words for God to understand you or what you are asking Him for. He is all knowing and he already knows before we ask. In the Lord's prayer we see the beginning of the prayer where God is directing us towards a place of seeking Him first. Where we are asking that His will be done in our lives. Then we move on to where we ask for our daily bread. Notice we don't ask for a week's or a month's worth of provision, but rather just enough for our daily. Tomorrow is not promised friends so why do we fret so much over it : ).

Now the next line is a kicker. People are always saying that God's love is conditional and you have to follow this and that rule to get what you want. Isn't it interesting though that we ask for our daily bread essentially provision for our needs and then we ask for forgiveness? Why would the former go before the latter if our God was conditional? We then see God taking care of us because he knows our human nature and its propensity to sin. When we ask that we are not led into temptation it's like putting up guard rails to prevent what would be a huge mess. Ain't God good : ).

Friends how do we pray? It's a personal question. James 4:2-3 convicted me whoa!
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Do you see a trend that spirals quickly out of control? Your desires dictate how you act if you do not have self control. So when you lack you go on a spree of self destruction and the destruction of others to get what you want. You get jealous of things you cannot have because you lack a content heart and you fight and quarrel with people you have no business fighting with. Raise your hand up if you have experienced this (I know I have especially when I feel entitled). Then you go to God asking and demanding and when you don't receive it you are surprised. You start doing things like 'sowing a seed' : ( and you never get what you want. Why? You asked for the wrong things because you are dictated and led by your desires.

Our pastor recently had a sermon on how our appetites cause us to sin. We are always experiencing one appetite or the other and they all want to be served and often if we aren't careful our appetites could master us be it lust, food, things, ambition or whatever it is we desire and we become slaves to them. These appetites then take priority in your prayer life.

So again how do we pray? Have you been asking and not receiving and wondered why? Perhaps it's not a matter of waiting now it's a matter of humbling your heart enough to hear God's no. What is directing your prayers and requests? Are you asking because you are coming from a place of jealousy, a covetous spirit, what are the motivations of your desires? Who have you trampled and quarreled with in your attempt to satisfy your desires? Have you molded God to fit into your image of how things should be which has inadvertently impacted your prayers? I do this all the time. I see something I want and I justify my need for it and then when I pray I come from a place of entitlement where I ask God to provide something that isn't meant for me.

If you find yourself convicted by these verses take a step back and ask for wisdom and insight. As Thessalonians says pray without ceasing. Philippians also reminds to be anxious about nothing but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make our requests known to God.

Listening is loving....

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