Have you ever prayed selfishly for something? Have you ever prayed for something and after it happened you wish you hadn’t prayed for that? What about praying for something that didn’t happen and you are glad that it didn’t? It is true we should be careful what we pray for. A story is told of a man who asked his pastor to pray for him to become a solid giver to the church. The pastor and the man prayed that God would help him be a consistent giver and increase his business so he could give more. God answered his prayer and blessed his business so much he went from tithing $40 a month to $500 a month! The man called his pastor back and said he didn’t know if he could keep up with tithing that much money now and his pastor said, “Ok. Let’s get together and pray and ask God to decrease your income back to when you only tithed $40 a month.” The man got the point and continued to honor God in his tithe.
What is your motivation for asking God anything? Sometimes, we don’t receive answers to our prayers because we pray with wrong motives. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” We must make sure our motives are pure when asking God for anything. Other times we ask for things we are not fully prepared to receive. For instance, Paul prayed, ““I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10). Paul received exactly what he prayed and was prepared for it. He died for Christ and shared in His sufferings. Are you willing to pray that? I’m not saying you will die if you pray that. What I mean is are you willing to receive fully what you ask for? Are you willing to walk through the answer of your prayer? If you pray to do the right thing you must also pray for the strength to carry it out.
Let’s say you ask God to heal your marriage. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen? If that means commit to counseling for a year, give up hobbies, change jobs so you are home more, and help out with the housework and kids are you willing to pay the price and work when those are the answers to a healed marriage? What if you pray for patience and God sends you through very trying circumstances to grow you in your patience? In fact, God always sends you through the opposite of what you pray for to grow a fruit of the Spirit in your life. If you pray to be more loving, God will help you grow in that by sending unlovable people your way. If it is joy He’ll challenge you by helping you discover joy in the middle of trials. You only find peace in the middle of chaos. You only become kind and good when faced with circumstances that demand kindness and goodness.
Samuel warned his nation that a king was a bad idea. God didn’t want them to have a king either. But they thought they knew better. In 1 Samuel 1, the nation refused to listen to Samuel and demanded a king to be like other nations. Israel wanted a change even though God had blessed them and brought them peace. They didn’t want an old prophet on a donkey anymore. They wanted a noble king on a horse leading them into battle. God granted their request. God told them they had not rejected Samuel but God Himself as their King. Saul became their first king and they failed miserably. Sometimes God answers your prayer but you will live to regret it. Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it. If you seek God first instead of instant gratification and seek His righteousness instead of your selfishness, He will give you the desires of your heart – which will be the desires of His heart as well (Matthew 6:33).