Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Agonizing instead of Asking

James 4: 2-3  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. 

What is the Problem?
The problem is that these Jewish Christians were not asking the Lord to meet their needs.  Instead, they were taking things into their own hands.  One could wonder if people who fight and war, murder, feed the wrong appetites and who are friends with the world are truly saved.  Whether they are or not, James seems to think that his audience has been born again by the word of truth.  (See chapter 1 verse 18}.  Thus, he seems to be approaching them as Christians who need to consider why they are in poverty when they are trying so hard to obtain what they want in their own way.  Jews have always been willing to fight for what they think is theirs and James seems to be saying that instead of fighting for their rights, they should start praying to the Lord.  He says they have not because they ask not.

How Should they Ask?
They should not be asking in a self-centered way.  They should not be asking for things that are sinful.  That is really the thought found in Psalm 66:18.   David says that the Lord will not hear if he regards iniquity in his heart.  This does not mean that we have to be sinless to pray although confession of sin is required for the kind of fellowship that we need in order to pray.  But we certainly cannot pray for that which is sinful or which is iniquity.  In addition, James says we cannot expect the Lord to answer prayers if those prayers are simply designed to fulfill our own lusts or pleasures. 

To Whom should They Pray?
Over the years I have always tried to pray to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Praying in the name of the Lord Jesus just simply means that His authority is being recognized in the prayer.  My name allows people to cash my checks.  And I have always felt that the Lord lets us go to the Father to cash the checks He authorizes.  That is why we pray in His name and for His will as we understand it.  More recently I have realized that it is perfectly permissible to pray directly to the Lord as well.  Paul did that on the Damascus Road when he was first saved.  He said “Lord, what do you want me to do (Acts 9:6)?”  The last prayer in our Bible is addressed by the apostle John to the Lord, “Even so come Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:20).”  Peter addressed the Lord directly when he got that sinking feeling while trying to walk on the water to the Lord.  For me, praying directly to the Lord who saved me, the One who has said He is my friend, the One who has personally revealed God to me, makes my praying more personal.  I try to visualize the Lord listening as I pray now.  I don’t think it matters as to whether we pray to the Father or whether we pray to the Lord since they are both God and they have one mind, but I find my praying to be more “real” when I pray to the Lord Jesus.

The Blessing of Prayer
I am one of those people who have a hard time depending on others.  I am a person who wants to fix problems and  I want to fix them now.  But the blessing of prayer is that if we ask we will receive.  We don’t necessarily receive immediately but we do receive.  In the millennium, the Lord will answer before people call on Him (Isaiah 65:24).  I don’t believe the millennium has come, but while some complain about delayed answers, I have experienced answers for prayers that I should have prayed but didn’t. 

So what is the lesson?  I believe that I have likely missed out on many blessings because I did not ask. Sometimes I have felt all alone when In fact I was not all alone.  The Lord was right there taking care of me.  It would have been nice if that care had been the answer to prayer.  Then in addition to not being alone, I could have said “thank you.” 

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of November 24, 2013

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