We are currently working through R.A. Torrey’s book “How to Pray,” published by Whitaker House Publishing.
We have very carefully studied the positive conditions of prevailing prayer. But, there are some hindrances in prayer. God has made these very plain in His Word. This week we will begin this part of the study with selfish prayers.
James 4:3 – Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (or; pleasures). At first glance, we will often blurt out “I don’t ever pray in a selfish manner!” To be perfectly honest, this was my first thought when we read this chapter in our devotions, and even after all of our discussion, I am still struggling with some of the examples that the book gave as selfish prayers, but let me back up and give you what the book has said. Then I will do my best to relay to you what the consensus was when Pastor Brad, Pastor Gavin and myself discussed what we had read.
A selfish purpose in prayer robs prayer of power. These prayers may be perfectly proper to ask for, things for which it is the Will of God to give. But the hindrances in prayer boils down to is the motive behind your prayers. Motive is defined by Webster’s as that which incites to action; that which determines the choice, or moves the will.
Is it possible to have a selfish motive in asking something that aligns with God’s Will? To answer this, you have to ask yourself this question: Will this just bring me gain or will this bring glory to God? That’s it, this is the litmus test, simple right? Yeah, that is what I thought too. Let me give you one of the examples out of our book.
1) A woman is praying for the conversion of her husband. That certainly is a most proper thing to ask. But, her motive in asking for the conversion of her husband is entirely improper; it is selfish. She desires that her husband may be converted because it would be so much more pleasant for her to have a husband who sympathized with her. Or, it is so painful to think that her husband might die and be lost forever. For some such selfish reason as this, she desires to have her husband converted. The prayer is purely selfish. Why should a woman desire the conversion of her husband? First and above all, that God may be glorified. It should be her desire because she cannot bear the thought that God the Father be dishonored by her husband.
Do you still think that it is simple? That example really hits home. Can a prayer for a loved one really be selfish?
The consensus of the Pastors:
Have you ever prayed out of fear? Let me try to explain. A loved one is dieing, and you begin to pray that God will heal their bodies. After all we know that God still is in the healing business and that there are many scriptures that tell us that it is God’s will that we be in perfect health. But, if we apply the litmus test to this scenario and check to see if we are being motivated into praying for healing because of the loss that we will have at their death or is it because we know that it will bring glory to God if they are healed?
Here are my struggles:
Psalms 2:8 – Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Psalms 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Luke 12:32 – Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
You see, this subject has to go farther than just the mere words that we speak, it has to go down deep into the heart where our words originate and from where we are motivated into action.
What about you? What do you think on the subject of hindrances in prayer? Weigh in on this subject and post a your comments now! Let us hear from you.
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