Daring To Ask

James 4:1-10, NKJV

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, youdouble-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning andyour joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
 

Introduction

Kate Smith was an alto singer of the last century. In the middle of the century, she was a popular figure on TV and Radio but she is best remembered for singing Irvin Berlin’s GOD BLESS AMERICA at the Philadelphia Flyers hockey games. One of her appearances is captured on YouTube: she gets a standing ovation. I’m not sure anyone can sing GOD BLESS AMERICA like Kate. She was a native of North Carolina and raised near the Chesapeake Bay. When she was a teenage girl, she and two of her friend ventured out into the bay in a tiny row-boat. They did not realize that the tide was going out and they also lost track of time. When the sun starting setting over the horizon, they decided they needed to head for the shore but when they looked up, the shore was very distant, they rowed frantically but the tide and darkness was threatening them and they became terribly afraid. After a brief discussion, Kate said, “We are going to try asking God.” So the girls joined hands and hearts and began praying. When they finished praying the darkness had set in but within seconds it seemed, a boat appeared out of the darkness and rescued the three girls. Kate made “Try Asking God” her motto and life philosophy. You can learn more about Kate on Wikipedia and trust me; you will like her. She was pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage.

Tonight we are going to talk about asking God and more particularly, why God doesn’t answer our prayers when we do ask.

To lay a foundation for the message, I want to share four pillars of truth that I hope will support the message:

  1. God created man to rule [have dominion] and to serve [care for the garden of Eden] {Genesis 1:26,2:15} God gave Adam dominion over everything in the Garden of Eden. Adam had the responsibility to manage everything in the garden. So he had both rights and responsibilities. He was also to procreate so we have three basic purposes for man [1] Rule [2] Serve [3] Multiply.
  2. Adam fell [transgressed] and lost his rights of dominion and his service became rigorous. He had to work hard for everything. The fall caused weeds to grow in his garden. God wants to restore us to all that we lost in the fall.
  3. Adam and Eve wanted to be restored just as all men want to be restored but we go about it the wrong way. The way to restoration is to submit to God, to become His servant, to lose our will in His. But man in his pride wants to rule not serve. The most foolish thing we can do is rebel against God. What He wants for us is infinitely greater than anything we could ever imagine. Resisting God’s will is the purest form of insanity. We would jump at His will if we had His foreknowledge.
  4. Adam’s fall gave the entire human race a concussion: it messed up our thinking. We think the opposite of God. The fall changed our default setting. After the fall man became self-centered and as you will see, this is the biggest hindrance to prayer.

JAMES GIVES US SEVEN REASON WHY GOD DOES NOT ANSWER OUR PRAYERS

  1. WE DON’T ASK GOD. We have desires and we pray in form but we are not going directly to God who is the only one that can answer our prayers. James said, “We have not because we ask not.” The Law of Prayer is to ask. Jesus commanded us to ask and this makes it an imperative.
  2. OUR MOTIVES ARE CORRUPT. The NKJV says we ask amiss. The NLT says we ask with wrong motives. We ask selfishly for things we want. Things that we intend to spend on our pleasures. James is not talking about sensual pleasures; he is talking more about the pleasure of having our way. He points out that envy and jealously are a big part of the problem; these things corrupt our motives and our corrupt motives rob us of any real power in prayer. God is not a cosmic Santa who is going to give us everything on our wish list. Our self-centered default setting hinders our prayer life.
  3. FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD. God is offended by our kissing up to the world system that crucified His Son and hates His Son even to this day. Hate for Jesus is not past tense. We live in a country filled with bitter Jesus haters. Why should God listen to our prayers when we have been playing footsie with the world. We are nothing more than adulterers. We are sleeping with the evil world system that is set against Christ. We cannot be a friend of this system and be a friend of God at the same time. This makes us double minded. Our loyalties are divided. We are not totally surrendered and it kills our prayers.
  4. OUR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT AND RESIST. We are to submit to God and resist the devil.
  5. OUR REFUSAL TO DRAW NIGH. Draw near to God and He will draw near to youCleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Drawing near has to do with the approach of the priest. The priest did not run or bound into the holy place. He approached humbly, carefully, prayerfully and he started at the laver, then altar, etc.
  6. OUR FAILURE TO REPENT. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. I don’t see much weeping these days, do you. I can’t remember the last time that I seen a person broken because of the burden they felt about their sin or even the sin of others.
  7. OUR PRIDE. Notice that pride comes up twice, verse 6 and 10. Why would pride be repeated? Perhaps it is because it is the biggest hindrance to prayer. God resist the proud. If you take two magnets and place them on a flat surface like a table and place them were the poles are the same, you can take one magnet with your fingers and drive the other off the table because it will resist any attraction. When the poles are opposite, they will attract. In the same way, God is not attracted to pride: He resist pride. He cannot stand pride. This is why the Pharisee in Luke 18 was merely talking to himself. God is not attracted to pride. To pray, we must humble ourselves.
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