Unanswered prayers (2)
Another obstacle to answered prayer is selfishness. Ever noticed that the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t use ‘I’, or ‘me’, or ‘my’, or ‘mine’? Instead it says: ‘Give us today our daily bread’; ‘forgive us our debts’; ‘lead us not into temptation’; ‘deliver us from the evil one’ (Matthew 6:11-13 NIV). Jesus said, ‘Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them’ (Mark 11:24 NKJV). But that doesn’t give us permission to be self-centred in our prayers. God’s answer to selfish prayers is always no. James wrote, ‘Even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure’ (James 4:3 NLT). We can get confused because the Bible also says ‘Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires’ (Psalm 37:4 NLT). But our desires must be in harmony with God’s will, which they will be if we truly delight in serving Him and allowing Him to be the ruler of our hearts. God blessed Abraham so that he could become a blessing to others (take a look at Genesis 12:2-3). God knows what we want, and He also knows why we want it. We need to be truthful about our own motives – are the things we want only for our own comfort and convenience, or also to fulfil His purposes? When we’ve answered that question honestly, we can pray with confidence. If we only look after our own interests, our answer will be ‘no’. But when our motive is to bless others too, God goes to work and answers our prayers in ways we never imagined.
Think about your prayer request from yesterday. (If it’s already been answered – great! Do you have any other unanswered prayers?) Have an honest think about your motives behind your unanswered prayer – is it actually a selfish prayer that God won’t honour?
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