Secrets to Answered Prayer – What Does it Mean to Ask and Receive?

One of the greatest hinderances to answered prayer is when we ask with the wrong motive. Understanding God’s nature and what He wants to do in response to our prayers will help us pray and receive answers to our prayers.

In Luke 11:9 Jesus tells us, “Ask and you will receive.”

I don’t know about you, but I have had times when I’ve asked and have not received. Since God’s promise is pretty clear, and nothing is impossible for Him, then the problem may not be with the giving, it may just be with the asking.

James 4:1-3 tells us that the reason we don’t have is because we don’t ask. That sounds pretty simple, and it agrees with what Jesus taught in Luke 11: “Ask and you will receive.”

But then James goes on to say, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). James seems to go from giving us a blank check to placing a major condition on our prayers. In order to understand what he’s telling us, we need to look at the context of what he is saying.

James is writing to people who were so consumed by their covetous lusts that they were willing to murder people in order to take what they wanted. The problem wasn’t that they wanted things; the problem was that they wanted their neighbor’s things. They weren’t happy with just having more, they wanted to be sure that everyone else had less.

As we look at our universe, one thing becomes very clear: God loves to create. Our world shows us that not only is God continually creating, He has placed within every living thing the ability and drive to create more.

After God created man He spoke and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Within each of us is a God given desire to create and enjoy abundance.

In Matthew 25 we read the parable of the talents. In that parable a man gives three of his servants different amounts of money. He gives five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to a third servant based on their individual abilities. It then says that the man immediately left on a journey.

Have you ever wondered if the master gave the servants any instructions? Did the master tell them what they were to do with the talents? Or did they already know?I believe that they already knew. They understood that God had given them the talents so that they would use them and multiply them. God’s first commandment to man has never changed. He wants us to be fruitful and multiply what He has given us. He gives us “talents” from His abundance, as well as the desire and ability to multiply them, so that there will be even greater abundance.

So what does all of this have to do with the first few verses in the fourth chapter of James? Everything.

As James points out, we have gone from “ask and you will receive” to “take whatever you want.” Man’s history is full of everything from bad business to war. It’s the story of men and women who have used power to exploit other people for their own selfish gain. Unfortunately, it is the story of what happens when we forget our Creator.

By asking God for more in our lives we are asking Him to reveal to us what He has already given us, and to show us ways to multiply it. We are asking for His blessings and favor on what we do so that we become wealthy be enriching the lives of everyone we meet.

We can have whatever we we ask for, but not at the expense of others. When we stop coveting what others have, and ask God to help us create more, then we’ll know what it means to ask and receive.

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