I love how the brother of Jesus speaks plainly and clearly in his New Testament book of James. He gets down to the nitty-gritty in his five chapters, and he doesn’t mince words. If we get confused about God’s intentions for our actions, James is certain to straighten us out!
The first part of James 4:2 is fairly sharp as he says we want what we don’t have, so we scheme and kill to get it. We are jealous of what others have, but we can’t get it, so we fight and wage war to take it away from them.
We don’t all wage war, but some of us are sure willing to fight others.
Suddenly in this same verse, James takes us in a different direction for getting our way.
Yet you don’t have what you want
because you don’t ask God for it. (James 4:2b)
There it is again, plain and simple. We should simply ask! Thank you, James, but, is it really that simple?
James goes on to say in chapter 4, verse 3 that we don’t get what we ask because our motives are all wrong. We only want what will give us pleasure. In short, we want it our way.
John directs us further in how we should ask.
I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 16:23)
Does that mean God will really give us whatever we ask? Really? Whatever?
Asking in Jesus’s name requires agreement between us and the Lord. So, how do we get to an agreement? Our heart should be aligned with the Lord. Our desires must be in unison.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
It’s the delighting in Him that changes things. You will find that your delight becomes the same as God’s delight. He places the desires in your heart that are His will. And, poof! There you have it.
Our will becomes aligned with His will, so we then can go before Him and ask confidently and boldly.
When we seek God and draw close to Him, He aligns our desires with His desires. We naturally begin to pray in His will. Problem solved!
And, that’s how you know your prayers are effective. The next step is to wait. God will answer you, but in His timing. Not yours. That’s usually the hardest part. The waiting – a topic for another day.