Ye Have Not – James 4:2

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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A dear believer once told us God does not answer prayer today. His belief was that God’s intervention was a thing of the past for Israel and that “prayer today is primarily to make us feel better.” The outworking of that thinking was predictable in his life. He acknowledged he seldom prayed and said: “My prayer time is my Bible study.”

This concept of prayer discourages us from spending time in prayer and causes us to miss out on a great deal of blessing the Lord intends for our life. Throughout Paul’s letters, he repeatedly shared his testimony that he never ceased to offer prayer for his needs and the needs of those he led to the Lord (i.e. Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 1:16-19). He even instructed those he sought to ground in sound doctrine to likewise: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Moreover, prayer was not to be seen as Bible study. When Paul prayed, he said: “…I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:14). His prayer was an oral communication to the Lord whether spoken or silently offered. Prayer was then, and is now, important as an act of worship. The Lord instructs us to come to Him in prayer that we have the benefit of His intervention in our needs. If we fail to avail ourselves to the Lord in prayer, we only hurt ourselves. James 4:2 puts it this way: “…ye have not because ye ask not.” It is abundantly clear in a number of Scriptures that God does answer prayer and intervene in our lives in the Dispensation of Grace. When Paul despaired for his life due to persecution, he told the saints they were “…helping together by prayer for us” (II Corinthians 1:11). Paul assured the Philippians: “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation [deliverance from prison] through your prayer” (Philippians 1:19). Paul instructed believers to pray for governmental authorities “…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…(I Timothy 2:2). This implied, circumstantial peace could be achieved by invoking God’s intervention. Paul offered prayer because he believed God “…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20). This included intervening in mercy in the life of Epaphroditus when he was “sick nigh unto death” (Philippians 2:27).

Believer, don’t “have not because ye ask not.” God may intervene in your circumstances when you pray. Beginning today, make prayer your first response to problems and your constant practice.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."