WEEK TWO, DAY FOUR, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK TWO THEME: PRAYER
DAY FOUR THEME: CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
SCRIPTURE: JAMES 4:2-10
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
“You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings.
You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in the life he has given to us? But he gives us more grace. This is why it says, ‘God stands against the proud, but favors the humble.’
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Cry out in sorrow, mourn, and weep! Let your laughter become mourning and your joy become sadness. Humbles yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
THANKS BE TO GOD
SOAKING IT UP: I have heard sermons and teachings in the past that suggest that Christians are to ask for anything that they want – anything – and just by asking and believing it is yours, you will have it. These messages seems to indicate that God is just waiting on his majestic throne for any of us to just ask for something and just like magic it will appear…like a genie in a bottle, except you get all the wishes you want.
I do believe that God wants to bless us continually and use us as His vessels of good, but I also believe that God’s own children will be asking and praying for things that line up with God’s Kingdom, not from selfish “cravings”. In my older teenage years, I heard a speaker at church who indicated that he wanted a certain motorcycle and he prayed for it and he got it. Just like that – a bigger than life Santa experience. I was amazed, but also skeptical…I’m not the one to say whether or not that is how he got his motorcycle – that God sent it to him – but I do remember then, and as I think on it now, I felt skepticism, The thought that our God who sees people starving and broken and in need of a personal touch – in dire need – made a motorcycle provision because someone wanted a motorcycle….hmmmm. But, now I feel all judgmental because the speaker may have had a much larger reason for wanting the motorcycle than just to have the motorcycle, and maybe God chose to provide it for him to use for the good of others… I’m open to God doing whatever He wants to do and do it however He wants to do it… It is that speaker’s experience and it’s God’s call on what He does and does not do. Not my place to reason the “whys”.
In this passage from James, James is clear that our requests of God are to be made from a humble heart and not from the basis of our cravings. James scolds the people for committing murder to get what they want to ease their cravings. Their life is full of struggling and fighting for the things of this world that will never satisfy, that will never fulfill their cravings. The call of the Christian is to break away from the world and its intoxicating lures and to humble ourselves so that our wills are in line with God’s will for the deeper and eternal needs of humankind.
True humility submits to God who in turn comes nearer and nearer and turns it back on the devil who flees, cleansing and freeing us to life that truly is living. Our human nature is to remain a spoiled child all our lives. Many of us who already have so very much spend a lot of time just wanting more and more. James has no room for this kind of childishness in the Kingdom of God. As we humble ourselves, we learn of all that is essential to living for ourselves and others and therefore spend our time praying for those things – no longer for our cravings.
Choosing to follow God’s way while living an earthly life requires a lot of humility and maturity, making our earthly walk evermore rewarding. Daily surrender and communion with our Heavenly Father gives us the proper cravings – for life that really is life!!!
Lord help us as we as we learn more and more about You to reflect You in all our living – in our prayers and in our actions. Amen.