Summary: God does not work in prayer according to whim, fancy, or caprice. But, there are definite laws, and rules, and principles for getting our prayers answered. And, the time will come, if it has not already come, when for God to answer your prayer will mean m
Today, we’re going to be talking about the principles of prayer, because, friend, there are principles that are real and valid. God does not work in prayer according to whim, fancy, or caprice. But, there are definite laws, and rules, and principles for getting our prayers answered. And, the time will come, if it has not already come, when for God to answer your prayer will mean more to you than anything in this world. So, pay attention.
Now, James is talking, here, about prayer. James chapter 4—and we’re going to begin reading in verse 1, and we’re going to read right on through to verse 10. Now, James asked the question: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” That is, if people can’t get along with other people, it’s because they can’t get along with themselves. If they fight outwardly, it’s because they're fighting inwardly. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not…”—now, if there’s not a star in your Bible right by that statement, there ought to be—“ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye might consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” —and, that word enmity means “warfare with God”—“whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1–10).
Now, James, here, is intensely practical. And, James is not a theoretician. He’s not a philosopher. He is a very practical preacher, and he’s talking to us about a very needful matter, and that is the matter of prayer. And, there are three things that stand out to me in these 10 verses, as I look at them.
I. The Unasked Prayer of a Struggling Man
The very first of which is the unasked prayer—the unasked prayer of a struggling man. James pictures a man who is struggling to get what he needs, but he fails to ask God. Look at it, and see if that’s not what he’s saying in verses 1 and 2: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1–2). Lusting, scheming, warring, fighting, killing, trying to get what we need, when all the time the Father says: “Ask, and ye shall receive” (John 16:24).
God wants to answer the prayers of His. And, very plainly, many who are in this building, and many who may be listening to a later tape, and many who are listening by radio or television, have needs that are unmet, simply because you’ve not come to God, who invites you to come and ask God. Our wonderful God has put it: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew
7:7). This is God’s plan. And, God doesn’t want you to try to do it yourself. You must ask
A little boy was trying to move a huge stone. His father was amused, and watched him. And, his father said to him, “Son, are you using all of your strength?” He said, “Yes, Daddy, I’m using all of my strength.” And, the dad said, “No, you’re not, Son. You’re not using all of your strength, because you haven’t asked me to help you.”
So many times you’re saying, “Oh, I’m trying with all of my strength.” My precious friend, God is your strength. Have you asked Him? Have you said, “Father, I want You to help me to do this?” Are you going to quit trying, and start trusting, and come to the Lord?
Did you know, friend, that not only are you missing a blessing when you don’t pray, but you’re sinning against God? You see, prayerlessness is more than weakness; it is wickedness. Let me give you some verses. In 1 Samuel chapter 12 and verse 23— listen to this verse: “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23)—“God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.” Did you know, my friend, that, when God the Holy Spirit gives you a prayer assignment to pray for me, or God gives me one to pray for you, and I don’t do it, not only do I fail you, I sin against God? Listen to it, again: “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.” You see, prayer is a command of God.