You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4, verse 2
Why don't people pray?
Atheists don't pray because they say there is no God; agnostics don't pray because, while there might be a God, they don't believe in him--so, why pray? Others pray sporadically, thinking they are allotted just so many prayers, and they don't want to waste them. Still others pray half-heartedly, because they just don't put too much stock in prayer, honestly thinking God is a weak, impotent being. Finally, there are those who are simply ignorant about how and for what they can ask God. . .
But, here's the question--what is prayer, anyway? If you immediately thought, 'talking to God,' I would challenge you. Don’t you think it is more? I mean, people lie to God--like Eve, for instance--is that prayer? Not really. Having given it a great deal of consideration, to me, prayer is the inner desire of an individual to interact with the heart of God--to talk to him, to praise him and thank him . . . Prayer is our desire to bring our requests to him, and it is a way to cleanse our consciences before him.
Several verses later, here in James chapter 4, verse 8 he writes, "Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. " Oh, my friends, that is both an invitation and a promise . . . do you see it? Which reminds me of Jeremiah 29.12-13, Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Notice that is spoken in first person – God is saying to you, Christine, to you, Andre, to you, Danielle, to you, Eric . . . do you need to feel my presence? Draw near to me … I will draw near to you, Child. Cry out to me, and I will be found by you. The vehicle through which we do that – prayer. Sweet.
The latter half of James 4.8 says "wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites." Confess any sin that is between you and God . . . go ahead, you won't shock him. No sin is either too great or evil, but no sin is too small, if it comes between you and God, if it pricks your conscience or keeps you from praying. Know this: it is God's heart to show you mercy, and to forgive you.
How do you draw close to God in prayer? Well, I pray off-and-on throughout the whole day, but I start my day with a 'set apart' time, with my coffee, with my God. I write my prayers in a thin, small, lined journal because my mind is prone to wander. I used to write four large letters down the left side of my page to organize my thoughts in prayer.
A- for adoration, praise to God
C-confession of sin
A-asking for personal needs, for others' needs--for WISDOM--don't forget James 1:5!
T-Thanksgiving--thank him for his good gifts--for life, for family, friends, freedom, health, protection and provision, Heaven . . . I like to finish my prayers thanking God; you see, practicing gratitude changes us; it changes our attitudes and outlooks, Friends.
Back to my atheist friends who don't pray . . . funny thing is, when they are scared out of their minds, facing terminal illness or the threat of losing a child, they will often utter these words: "God, if you are there, and I don't believe you are--but just in case you are, help my child ... please, God! If you do, I'm yours forever, I'll . . . " So, did God change during the difficult circumstances? No, the person just got desperate enough to consider that prayer was a worthwhile avenue to potential help when there was no other visible help. How apt is this quote by C.S. Lewis: God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Fact is, we are often more open, more pliable when we are in pain.
A while back, I had the privilege of visiting a friend's dad in the hospital who appeared to be at the end of his life. I went by myself and was standing alongside his bed when he awakened; I introduced myself, and talked with him for a little while, before I asked if I could pray with him. The man’s family had asked me to go, but had been concerned he would be gruff or unkind to me, he wasn't. Struggling through the oxygen to get his breath, he asked if the family and I thought he was dying--I said, 'maybe' . . . I asked him if he thought he was dying, and he said, 'ah--50/50.' I said something like, 'well, just in case you are, do you know where you'll be when you take your last breath here on earth? You can, you know . . .' And that launched us into deeper waters . . . That conversation would not have been possible only days before. He would not have been ready or receptive. We talked . . . it was good. I held his hand and prayed for him . . . and it seemed to bring him peace. He was gone within 24 hours. I was the last person to pray with him, and I believe God drew close to him in that prayer. Prayer is so powerful because it connects us with God.
You see, the fact is that God is a loving, benevolent God whose greatest desire is communion with us. You do not have, because you do not ask God. What do you not have because you have not asked of God?
Ask Him... today.
Say to the Mountain, a song by Chris McClarney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5zP14_8meo