WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 13, 2021
TOPIC: WRONG MOTIVES WILL HINDER YOUR PRAYERS
BY T. O. BANSO
“You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires” (James 4:3 Amplified Bible).
Prayer is one of the key issues in the Bible. Jesus Christ prayed often privately and publicly when He was on earth. At the request of His disciples, He taught them how to pray – the Lord’s Prayer – a model for prayer (Luke 11:1-4).
Many Christians pray but not everyone prays the right way. Knowing how to pray is key to getting answers to prayers. Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, “I would rather be the Master of the Art of Prayer than MA of both Oxford and Cambridge. He who knows how to pray has his hand on the leverage that moves the universe.”
Knowing how to pray includes avoiding hindrances to prayer that the Bible talks about. Some people believe that when Jesus said in Matthew 21:22, “Whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” means that if they ask for anything whatsoever, whether stupid, crazy, or dangerous, God will do it as long as they believe when they pray!
That could not possibly be what Jesus was talking about. Jesus would never have expected that anyone would take such a statement to the extreme and act contrary to the character of a child of God. Am I trying to diminish the words of Jesus? Certainly not. The words of Jesus elsewhere confirm that Jesus did not expect that people would make just any request and expect God to grant it.
He said in Matthew 7:7-12, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (New King James Version).
From this scripture, one could see that God will not give bad things to those who ask Him even if they ask, believing. This does not contradict what Jesus said that whatever things we ask in prayer, believing, we shall receive. it. Similarly, even if one asks something in prayer, believing, but one has a wrong motive, God will not answer the prayer. A wrong motive in prayer is one of the hindrances to prayer. It is true Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (New King James Version). However, wrong motives would deny one of the answers to one’s prayers.
The apostle James writes: “You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires” (James 4:3 Amplified Bible). From this scripture, we see that the wrong motives have to do with selfishness or unrighteous agenda. The request was about getting something to spend on their hedonistic desires.
No one who has a wrong motive to get something from God, to spend on his hedonistic desire, should expect any answer from God even if he believes so much for it. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He says in Revelation 2:23 that He searches the minds and hearts. God doesn’t answer prayers offered with wrong motives. “God loathes the sacrifice of an evil person, especially when it is brought with ulterior motives” (Proverbs 21:27 New Living Translation).
This is very important because many people have wrong motives concerning projects, prograrmmes, power, etc. They could be motivated by selfish ambition, rivalry, jealousy, etc. to pray to God even with fasting. They could want the power of God, position, or achievement to impress people or prove that they are better. This could be in business, in the ministry, or in other areas. God won’t answer such a prayer.
One could say that the prodigal son had a wrong motive for asking his father for his share of his father’s estate, a request that was not normal. Why did I say that? Because Luke 15:13 says, “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money on wild living” (New Living Translation). He could have received his share of the father’s estate and stayed around so that the father could see what he was doing and give him useful advice. I think he knew from the outset he wouldn’t stay around his father . He suffered for his folly. He returned home after hunger taught him a lesson!
Let your prayers be out of the right motive. God noted that Solomon’s request was out of a right motive, not a selfish motive, and granted his request. He gave him in addition what he didn’t even ask for.
1 Kings 3:11-14 says, “Then God said to him: ‘Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (New King James Version).
Many people have wasted precious time in prayer without an answers because of wrong motives. Faith is not enough. Walking in forgiveness is not enough. Being specific in your request is not enough. Wrong motives hinder answers to prayers. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3 New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure.”
Are your prayer motivated by wrong motives? For instance, is that thing you are asking God for in prayer motivated by a selfish reason? Do you want something because another person has just gotten his? God wants you to succeed but not because of another person’s success. God doesn’t want you to compete with another person. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind” (New Living Translation). Does that describe you?
Good News Translation renders James 4:3 thus: “And when you ask, you do not receive it, because your motives are bad; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures.” Take notice of the two phrases: “bad motives” and “your own pleasures.” Avoid bad motives when you come to God with your requests; don’t pursue your own pleasure, neglecting God. Holman Christian Standard Bible puts the verse this way: “You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” Beware of wrong motives and evil desires.
Search your heart. God cannot be deceived; He knows what is in your heart; He knows your motives. The LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9). “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives” (Proverbs 16:2 New Living Translation). The psalmist says, “Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and affections” (Psalm 26:2 New Living Translation). Can you be so bold as to say that?
Jesus says, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23 New King James Version). This a great promise. But there are conditions in the Bible to meet. And one of them is having the right motive. Let your motive be right. God knows the motive of everyone coming to Him in prayer. Purge yourself of wrong motives before you approach the throne of God in prayer. Wrong motives hinder answers to prayer.
Don’t want anything from God to satisfy your selfish or evil desire or pleasure. God created you for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). Seek what will glorify Him, not the flesh. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God.
Charles Spurgeon says, “God the Holy Spirit writes our prayers, God the Son presents our prayers and God the Father accepts our prayers. And with the whole Trinity to help us in it, what cannot prayer perform.” Are your prayer requests written by the Holy Spirit or by your wrong motives? Don’t waste your time in prayer making requests God has given assurance He would not answer!
The apostle John says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (New King James Version). To have this confidence, be sure that you have no ulterior or wrong motives or selfish reasons that can hinder your prayers.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: I repent of every wrong motive that may have been hindering answers to my prayers. Holy Spirit, deliver me from having wrong motives or selfish reasons when I pray. Help me not to make requests out of competition or jealousy. Help me to pray according to the will of God.
This is wisdom for living, and it’s worth sharing. Please share.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T.O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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