I have been invited to write a few prayer devotionals for an upcoming 40 days of prayer. I would appreciate any feedback you might have on the following sample. I might post more of these as I complete them if time allows. Each one needs to be roughly a 1/2 page, and needs to be written for the average church member at my church.

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Praying with the wrong motives

Read James 4:2-3
(NLT)
2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James tells us in 4:2 “You do not have, because you do not ask.” He is implying that our failure to ask deprives us of what God would otherwise have given to us. We also see this affirmed in Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:9-10 where Jesus states “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…” Jesus and James both make a clear connection between seeking things from God and receiving them.

This is not to imply that God is a great wish giver in the sky. He is far from it! Most of us have seen or experience a young child in the toy section of a department store trying to get his or her way by throwing a tantrum. In the same way a wise parent does not give into the child’s selfish desires, so God deals with us. James 4:3 identifies that God will not honor those wanting things for the wrong reasons. We must come before Him in humility and repentance, not with pride demanding our desires be met. When our desires seek to match those of God, He will honor our prayers. God wants to honor your prayers, but you must first put God at the center of our relationship, not our desires.

Prayer Exercise: Ask yourself, have you been seeking what God wants or what you want?

Gracious Lord, we pray that you would show us your will, so that we may share in your desires. We ask for your forgiveness for all the times we have tried to impose our desires upon you. Pray that you would open our eyes and our hearts to see the world as you see it. We lay our selfish desires at your feet. AMEN

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