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Why You Pray Is More Important Than What You Pray For
By Rick Warren

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3 (NIV)

God wants to bless your life and then watch you bless other people’s lives with the same benefits he gives to you. In fact, one condition for answered prayer is a willingness to use God’s blessings to help those less fortunate.

Proverbs 21:13 says, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered” (NIV). God is saying that, if you ignore those around you who are in obvious difficulty, it doesn’t make sense to expect him to bail you out of your own difficulties.

God wants you to be like him, and God is love. One of the ways you prove you have love is that you’re willing to be generous toward other people. The principle of stewardship is repeated throughout Scripture: God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to other people.

For instance, you might ask God for good health, but what are you going to do with that healthy body after you’ve got it? Are you praying just to help yourself, or are you praying so you can help other people too? When you ask God to bless your business or career, are you willing to give back a portion of what God has blessed you with?

The Bible says in James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (NIV). Motive is important in prayer. Why you pray is more important than what you pray for.

Is it possible to pray for the right thing with the wrong motive? Sure. I’m not saying you should never pray for your own personal needs. Jesus says to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 ESV). But you have to check your motive. Are you willing to share your blessing with other people, or are you going to hoard it all for yourself?

God is not interested in simply satisfying your selfishness. The conditions of prayer are that you have an honest relationship with God, a forgiving attitude toward other people, and a willingness to share God’s blessings with other people. God loves you, so he’s teaching you how to pray in an effective way.

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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