(James 4: 2-3, NLT) …Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
Recently, some dear friends of mine received some amazing news — a blessing that is a direct answer to prayers, and an open door that only God could make happen. I am so overjoyed for my friends, and I can’t help but reflect on who they are in Christ — faithful, humble, kind, generous, selfless, and supportive. I can’t think of a couple that bears more evidence of spiritual growth and maturity, so it makes total sense to see them reaping the harvest of the seeds that they have sown.
We all have desires and goals. We all have those things that we pray over, and I think many of us are looking around for open doors — for answers. I know that in my own life, I have asked God “why” and “when” a million times when it comes to the desires of my heart. His response: Why? When? He turns it right back around to me, because it truly is about motives.
For the longest time, I thought what I needed was another child. This was a time in my life where I walked through real darkness — truly the valley of the shadow of death. I felt utterly helpless and very, very alone. People around me — my peers, unmarried people much younger than myself, and even my fellow “infertile Myrtles” — were all getting pregnant like it was an epidemic to which I was somehow, heartbreakingly, immune. Talk about disheartening. So I, of course, began to question God. I put Him on trial and I badgered Him like an angry lawyer! God, WHY can’t I have another baby? WHEN are You going to answer MY prayers? I’m faithful! I demand answers! Only to be met with total silence…
So I quit asking God for anything. Oh, I prayed, but I left my requests in the recesses of my heart. I had resolved that God was arbitrary and supplications just don’t matter. He’s gonna do what He’s gonna do anyway, right? That was the way I felt! I thought God was being silent because I was somehow undeserving of an answered prayer, but it was during this time that I came across the above verse in James 4, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.” Well, there was my answer folks. I was humbled in that moment. I realized that God’s plan for me is not always what I think I want. It’s not about me! I had been selfish. I asked myself, “Why do I want another baby? When have I truly set myself aside and given my all — my focus, my heart, my ability — over to the will of God?”
Maybe you have been asking God for something, to no avail. Maybe you’re like I was and feeling defeated and alone. Please know this — YOU ARE NOT AT WAR WITH GOD! If you feel defeated, it isn’t because God is keeping you under His thumb. Don’t you for one moment believe that lie. He loves you, and He has something beautiful and perfect planned out for your life. It may not match what you have dreamed up in your human and imperfect heart, but when you let go of that stuff, when you relinquish the control to God, when you set your heart on being faithful to His commandments and precepts, He will begin to open those doors so wide that there will be no mistaking that it is Him and only Him!
It’s funny how, in retrospect, things almost always make sense. This past summer, it became evident to me that a former student of mine (a 9 year old little boy) needed a stable home and a family to raise him and provide for him. Now, I work in public education in an inner-city elementary school, so I do see this a lot, but this time I felt that unmistakable pull that only comes from God. This child would not get out of my thoughts and God would not leave me alone. The door had opened, folks. It all made sense. We brought this child into our home, and we haven’t looked back, not even once. All of my questions have been answered. I asked God why — because…if I had another child of my own I would never have been receptive to opening our home to this little boy. I asked God when — when everyone was ready.
Like my friends, who stayed the course, whose focus was always on serving God and growing in Him — and like my own situation — when we are able to shift the focus from self to serving, when our motives are pure and selfless, that’s when things start to happen. The doors begin to open, and we have but to walk on through them. Sometimes we have to endure blind faith, but God is never going to leave us behind. He’s carrying you. I promise. Keep your heart steady and pure. He’ll do the rest.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you that even in my doubt and hurt, when I could not see past my tears and frustration, You were there waiting and ready to meet me with every answer. Help me to never forget what I have learned through the darkest times of my life, and help me to continue to walk in that wisdom. Amen.