Jas 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Jas 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Sometimes those of us who correctly stress the sovereignty of God can fall into a trap of thinking, at least subconsciously perhaps, that the means to God’s decreed ends are not all that important. Hyper-Calvinism tends to think like this by assuming that just because the Lord has elected some unto salvation, it doesn’t matter whether we take the gospel to them or even if they believe; they must be saved regardless. But this is unbiblical thinking since the same God also decreed the means in which he saves which is through repentance of sins and faith in the finished work of Christ.
The same can be said of the means by which God often works in our lives which is through the prayers of the saints. To simply not pray or be lax in praying because you assume that God’s will is going to be done regardless misses the point of why we are to pray. There are some things to keep in mind here:
1. While God has determined all things from the beginning to the end and none shall stay his hand, he has graciously chosen to bring about much of his purposes by allowing us to share in his work by praying for them to come about. Another way we put this is that he has chosen the means to the end just as surely as he has chosen the ends themselves.
2. God loves to respond to our asking and our caring and our pleading. He does not respond lovingly to apathy. The reason for this should be obvious. He is too glorious and his work too important and wise for us to be apathetic towards him or what he is doing. Apathy in prayer means we don’t consider his work to be overly important and there is no burning desire to see his will done. One cannot show love with apathy. God is glorified by our coming to him because there is no one else to go to and because we have a heartfelt desire to see his will done. The lack of prayer demonstrates little love for the things of God and he is not going to bless coolness in our love for him.
I can prove this biblically from Ezekiel 36. After promising that he will establish a new covenant by giving us new hearts and his Spirit will indwell us and no hint that there are any conditions left for us to fulfill, he then makes an interesting statement in vs. 37, "Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.”. It is going to happen as sure as there is a Sun in the sky but it won’t happen without us asking for it.
Let me make one more application from this. If the blessings of the Lord towards us come in part through our faithful prayers it might do us good to examine how we pray and what we pray for. Examine your prayers for the church, for your children, for the lost, for your marriage, etc. Do these look pretty cold and uninterested when compared to your finances or health or material desires? Are we more passionate in our prayers for temporal things than we are for our spiritual needs and the work of God? And perhaps when we start putting it all together it is no surprise at some of the things going on in our lives. Let’s show the Lord that his glory is our greatest desire and see what he will do.