It is written: “…ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:2-3) Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote: “A mere formalist can always pray so as to please himself.”
The goal of prayer is not to formulate words pleasing to one’s self and to other men. The real goal of prayer is to reach the ear of God. The Pharisees are masters of well-ordered words to be heard and to be praised of men, but they pray to be heard of men not of God. Richard Cecil wrote: “A man may pray night and day and deceive himself.” The vain and repetitious prayers of men never deceive God. God judges the thoughts and the intents of the heart, and only holy thoughts and godly intents reach the ear of God.
James gives us two major hindrances to God-ward prayer – not asking, and asking amiss. First, are you personally in a prayer relationship with the heavenly Father? Secondly, the word “amiss” means wickedly or wrongly. Why do you want God to hear you? Are your prayers filled with honorable intentions and pure pleadings?
In this fast paced society usually the first to fall victim in a believer’s day is his prayer closet. Often he makes himself too busy to commune with God. Oh, he has time to read every word of the daily paper and enter into lengthy discussions of its contents; but he does not have time to read the Holy Scriptures and enter into a discussion with the Author. God’s plan is very simple – ask and receive, do not ask and do not receive. It is seemingly simple, but real prayer takes time to search the heart and lay it bare before the Father. It is not what is upon the lips that are weighed but what is revealed out of the heart. Precious care must be taken to unwrap the burdens of the heart. Asking to receive requires quality honest time with the Giver.
E. M. Bounds wrote: “A revival of real praying would produce a spiritual revolution.” Oh, what answers we would receive from God if we would put the daily paper down, turn off the TV, radio, CD player, computer, telephone, and earnestly whisper into the ear of God and intently listen to Him upon devoted knees. Heaven and earth will be moved when it is met with a revival of REAL praying! Let us sincerely pray for a spiritual revolution to begin!!! –By Dr. M.J. Seymour