James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Prayer should submit our lives to the lordship of Christ. How then can we bring our own selfish desires and activities to God’s throne and expect His blessing?
One of our greatest problems is that we have a generation of self-seeking, manipulative Christians. We have learned the methods of the world and tried to mingle them with the method of God. Many well-meaning believers initiate an idea or ministry without consulting the Father. Mass marketing techniques and appeals for funds are used to launch ministries. Things often go well until we reach the limits of human ability. Then we begin to pray fervently for God’s assistance.
But God refuses to answer. He had nothing to do with our self-motivated and self-initiated prayer in the beginning and He has nothing to do with it now. The windows of heaven are only open to prayer that is centered in the will of God rather than the will of man.
In his book, The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer says, “If I mingle some pet religious enterprise of mine with the will of God and come to think of them as one, I can be hindered in my religious life.” Effective prayer discovers the will of God and passionately pursues it. Anything that would direct us away from His plans and maneuver us in the direction of our own ways will hinder our intimacy with God.
Lord, how often I strive to achieve spiritual results with human ability before seeking Your assistance! Change my mindset and the longing of my heart to be a willing listener so that You are able to guide and direct my thoughts and actions to focus on Your kingdom. How You must grieve when I go my own way in my own strength. Forgive me, Father. Start fresh with me from this moment as I allow Your Holy Spirit to lead me towards whatever will bring You the most glory in and through my life.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 37, Hindrances to Effective Prayer by Sammy Tippit). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God, who “is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Thank God for his abundant grace to you. Confess times of hoarding God’s resources, as if his loving supply for you were not continuous. Commit to being “generous on every occasion,” asking that such “generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (9:11).
Praise God for believers who have “rich generosity,” at times giving even beyond their normal ability in self-sacrificing love. Thank him especially for those who give themselves first to the Lord and then to each other, and ask that such generosity be multiplied in many others (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.