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Let’s start by reading James 4:2-3, “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. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  At the end of verse 2, James is telling the Lord’s people that they do not receive from the Lord because they do not ask.  I’m sure many of them would have objected and said that they do ask the Lord for things.  In anticipation of that, James says in verse 3 that even though they may ask, they didn’t receive anything from the Lord because they asked amiss, or they asked with the wrong motives.  They just wanted things that would appeal to their flesh, not things that would better equip them in their service to the Lord.  Because of this, the Lord did not give them what they asked for.  Verse 2 shows us plainly that these people were just concerned with getting their own way and to satisfy their own sensual or fleshly pleasures.

Now let’s compare this with 1 John 5:14-15 which says, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”  Here we are made to understand that when our requests are according to the will of God, He hears and answers our prayers.  Psalms 37:4 tells us to, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  When we find our delight in the Lord, it changes our prayer lives.  The desires of our hearts will be to have the things we need to better serve the Lord.  Instead of praying for nice clothes, we will be praying for opportunities to witness to others.  Instead of praying for a new car, we will be praying for boldness in the face of adversity so we can be an effective witness for the Lord.  Instead of praying for worldly things, we will be praying for the salvation of souls and James 5:16 tells us that, “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

What about our physical needs; should we not pray about that?  We certainly should commit all our cares to the Lord as we read in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”   However, let’s learn to be content with having our necessities and not be consumed with having the best there is.  The Lord tells us in Matthew 6:31-34, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Along with our prayers, we should be thankful for all the Lord does for us.  Philippians 4:6 tells us to, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  Our thanksgiving should accompany our prayers.  Even as we ask the Lord to meet our needs, we should thank Him, knowing that according to His perfect will, He will give us what we need.  The Psalmist instructs us in Psalms 100:4 to, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”