Do you ever wonder why prayers don’t get answered? They get responded to, but not in the way or the time frame we want. James gives us the answer to this burning question.
Perhaps we ask with the wrong motive.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NIV)
Sometimes, we may think we have a pure motive for our prayer or charitable work, but our hearts can deceive us. Have you ever thought you wanted something for a noble reason, only to have God reveal that your motive was less than altruistic? I know that I have.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)
Praying for God to make you self-aware can be vital in understanding our hearts. Sometimes, I pray for things that I think are for good reasons, a raise or promotion, only to find out that the raise or the promotion is an idol for me. God is not in the business of answering prayers that will distance our hearts from Him. He loves us and cares more about our relationship with Him than anything else. For God to answer prayers that will cause us separation would be like a wife telling her husband that she
was bored and wanted to try a new sexual partner and asking her husband to find one for her. I know it sounds absurd! We never ask our mates such a thing, but that is how we treat God. In a marriage relationship, this is adultery; in our relationship with God, it is idolatry. We ask for things and expect God to provide them when it is a thing that would puff us up in pride, or we would worship. God’s response is no, and we respond with anger and disillusionment.
How can we pray with a pure heart? We need to ask God to create in us a pure heart like David did (Pslams 51:10 NIV). Having a pure heart means undivided devotion to God – loving Him only and above all else. The power of the Holy Spirit has transformed this kind of love and devotion to God. It will overflow into every area of our lives and our relationships with others.
How can you purify your heart?
- Dwell on the Word of God. Time reading our Bibles is a crucial step to having a pure heart. You can find several reading plans online that can help you get started.
- Spend quiet time with God. There are many different methods for spending quiet time with God. Find a way that works for you and do it.
- Watch your words. Our words reveal the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. Paying attention to your comments will make you see your heart as it truly is.
- Purify your heart by monitoring your thoughts. All sin starts in our thoughts. Before sin ever became an action, it was a thought in your mind. Stop the sin in your thoughts before it becomes a full-blown sin. Not that our evil thoughts aren’t sin, they are, but that is the place to put a stop to it rather than dwell on it.
- Consider the influences that affect your heart. We spend so much time watching TV and listening to the radio and podcasts. The more you listen to worldly media, the more worldly you become.
- Be repentant. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, whether in your thoughts or actions, repent quickly.
- Be open to the wisdom of others. The Bible says there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14). Talk to godly wise people. You may not want to take their advice verbatim, but sort out the parts that will work for you after considering everything.