Asking but not getting

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:1-3

There is something that I want and its beyond my control. I’ve been praying into it and working at it, but it hasn’t come to pass. At least not yet. Its times like these when you start questioning, “why haven’t I received what I’ve been praying for?” I know that God is all sovereign and He isn’t sadistic or bad (Luke 11:9-13). Thats when I start thinking about my motives behind asking.

We don’t often question ourselves and the motives behind our wants. Is the motive good or bad, right or wrong. James states for us what a wrong motive is: “you may spend what you get on your pleasures”. There are just so many things that we want in life and many of those bring us pleasure rather than bring God glory. Jesus was the opposite of this (John 8:29) – everything He did was for the glory of God.

Maybe its time to sit and have a genuine think: why am I asking for what I’m asking for?

The All Nighter

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Luke 6:12-16

How does the church in this day and age choose leaders? I’ve heard of the “faithful in little, faithful in much” principle (Luke 16:10), the Godly character and personality test (1 Timothy 3:2-7), congregational approval test (Acts 6:1-7) and a whole bunch of other assessments. It is indeed wise to ensure that the right person is put into the right role. Jesus picked out 12 special disciples (Apostles) to invest in heavily for 3 years to build His church. Out of the hundreds or thousands that followed Him around, these 12 were hand picked to be Apostles. So how did Jesus choose these Apostles?

Easy. He went to the mountain to pray and He prayed the whole night.

And why not? Since it is God who is able to see man’s heart and judge his character (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10), what we really need to do is: ask Him. Well, Jesus did just that.

So what are we doing again?


“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

If the wonder and mystery of the Trinity is not enough for us, here is something new to grasp: we, who have accepted Christ, are in the Trinity. John 17 is proof.

Jesus prays that we “may also be in” Him and The picture of our Triune God is the picture that we are to fashion fellowship to. We are to be how God describes Himself in Deuteronomy 6:4 – absolute onesness. We are to be in united communion and yet celebrate the distinctiveness and equality of each individual, just as the Trinity is united in essence (what) but distinctive in person (who).

Our connection to the Trinity is through Jesus – “I in them and you in me”. This is achieved by Jesus sharing His glory from God with us. In the same way that God is in Jesus, Jesus is in us. “Complete unity” then isn’t just a picture of unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world being one, it is all of us being in Jesus, the Triune God.

This unity will testify to the world that Jesus is the Christ sent from God and that we are loved by God just as God loves Jesus.

What a mystery to find that this unity and disparity exist in us concurrently! In us as individuals and in us as one. To make sense of this in daily life is indeed a challenge, but not impossible. If the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16), what Jesus prayed for us is already done. Hallelujah! Now, lets live it.

More information on the Trinity:

 Father, I thank you that you know what we need even before we know it. I thank you that you knew that we would need unity to testify to your divinity and to show forth your love. What you have prayed for, we proclaim as true and happening. We confidently live it in our word and deed, not just in the church but in our daily lives.