You do not have, because you do not ask.

I have heard this sentence from James 4:2 quoted by people who want Christians to pray more, which seems a pretty good aim. (Though having had a quick skim of the surrounding verses, I’m not sure that we can take it as straightforwardly as some would like. In fact, I’m not even sure it’s about asking God but that’s another conversation for another time.) Certainly there are plenty of people who want us to pray more, because we all know that in this culture we don’t pray enough. We would all say that prayer changes things – and indeed that it’s vital to our lives – but few of us would be comfortable when reading Paul talking about his own prayer life.

So I decided a little while ago that my personal project this year would be to learn about prayer. There are some books I want to read (which I’ll talk about in a minute) and I want to talk to other people about it. But something rather odd has happened over the last couple of days. Previously, I wanted to want to pray, I wanted to be good at praying, I wanted to improve my relationship with God (though for that, see the next post), I wanted not to cringe when I read Paul. But something’s happened. I want to pray! A few things happened to bring about this change, and I thank God for their timing. I might even write about some of them here sometime soon.

So, what’s the plan? First, it’s to pray – that God will make me a pray-er, that I will rejoice in this gift he’s given us, that I will pray and that my prayers will glorify him. Then it’s to ask a couple of my friends to keep talking to me about prayer and keep me excited about it. To learn more about prayer, because there are so many verses I don’t understand and time’s I don’t know what I’m meant to do, there are four books I want to read. The first is A Call to Spiritual Reformation by DA Carson which is on my bedside table at the moment. Then the Bible Speaks Today commentary on prayer, FF Bruce’s book on the subject and Valley of Vision, a book of prayers written by the puritans, to guide and encourage me. Fourthly, I’m going to post thoughts here. Much of this will be reflections on what I’m reading to ensure that I do reflect on it. There may also be random thoughts that I have and want to preserve. Please do comment, and share encouragements, advice and grace.

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6 Responses to “You do not have, because you do not ask.”

  1. Kim Says:

    I enjoyed your comments here. My husband and I (and an on-line prayer group ) are beginning on Monday(Jan. 1) to read thru the Bible doing a one year Bible format.
    Have you read Deepening Your Conversations With God, Learning to Love to Pray? It is a most wonderful book. I am sorry I cannot remember the author–(Ben someone, as I remember!) I loaned mine and need to get another copy, but I think you would enjoy it. Prayer is a worthy undertaking. As the saying goes, there is power in prayer. God bless you!

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  3. Richard Pawsey Says:

    Someone recently sent me an e mail telling me that they have 2 dollars left in their bank account, they are behind in their rent, that they have bad credit and are late in other payments.

    I know a little bit more about this person also because they are a former client from a rehab center that I work at. given the circumstances I really do not think it would be prudent to be sending him money but this is what he said to me “you have not because you ask not” so he asked me for $100.00. I really don’t think that his particular scripture reference he has given to me so I can give him some money is in context and I am a little concerned that perhaps he may need to come back into our program but from a scriptural stand point what would you say to him regarding this statement and then from that point i will be addressing some other issues.thank you for your time

  4. Dee Chadwell Says:

    Enjoyed your post — and I agree that keeping things in context is very important. James not only gives us encouragement to prayer, but he sets limits on what is appropriate in prayer. Good job. dc

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