James gives us three reasons people fail to receive from God. The first reason I would like to bring to your attention is James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.”
We must pray for what we desire. God is not going to intrude upon us or interrupt our lives without our permission. If He did, He would force everyone to be saved. Jesus said, “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matt 6:8). Yet He waits for us to ask.
Another reason people don’t receive from God is that they ask amiss. James says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God has not promised to give us whatever our flesh desires. If people want to indulge in things that are immoral, illegal or unscriptural, they are on their own.
No one can expect God to grant things that are contrary to His will. Prayer is not some kind of magic wand that produces anything under the sun. God has given us His word to believe in and base our prayers on. If it is in His word, then it is in His will.
Thirdly, James tells us that unbelieving prayer is unanswered prayer. James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” The person who wants to receive from God must refuse to doubt.
The greatest enemy to the prayer of faith is doubt.
Many people are ready to pray and they are asking for things that are clearly promised in God’s word, but they are not prepared to resist doubt, so unbelief robs them of the answer. The key to answered prayer is faith.
Learning how to pray the prayer of faith is one of the greatest blessings a Christian can experience in life. The scriptures promise us if we pray the prayer of faith and we pray in faith, we can always expect an answer. But don’t just take my word for it, look at what James, Jesus and John had to say about the prayer of faith.
James 5:15 says, “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.”
Jesus said this in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
The apostle John tells us this in 1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
These three men ought to know something about prayer!
There are other scriptures and examples in Scripture that stress this same point, but these three should certainly be enough witnesses to prove that the key to answered prayer is faith and the prayer of faith that receives from God.
To pray the prayer of faith, the following steps, or some variation thereof, must be followed:
First, find a scripture or scriptures that promise the thing you desire. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). It is crucial to be absolutely certain you know God’s will concerning what you are believing for. You have to do your homework!
Second, ask God for it. You can do this by yourself as Jesus said in Mark 11:24 or you can pray with others. In Matthew 18:19 Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Sometimes it’s helpful to join your faith with other believers and get in agreement. Another way to pray the prayer of faith is to call for the elders of the church to pray over us (James 5:14). This too is a prayer of agreement.
The third and most important step to praying the prayer of faith is to believe you receive when you pray. This is where unbelief robs many people of their answer. Let’s look again at the words of Jesus in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
This is the clearest description of the prayer of faith in the entire Bible. Most people are ready to pray for the answer and nearly everyone is ready to receive their answer, but how many are ready to believe they receive when they pray and then continue to believe they received after they prayed, before seeing or feeling the answer?
In my opinion, people are in too much of a hurry to take the time to prepare themselves to believe they receive when they pray. They have the attitude that God is able to do what they ask and are willing to give God a chance to answer their prayer, but if it doesn’t happen immediately, they are ready to move on to someone or something else.
It may be necessary to spend time in God’s word to allow His promises to become more real than ever before. Proverbs tells us how this is done: Proverbs 4:20-22, “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.” It is only when the word of God is more real to you than the symptoms or the circumstances that you’re ready to believe you have received when you pray.
As soon as you have prayed, the believing begins. If you’re praying to God, and the thing you are asking for is within His will and He has promised to give it to you when you ask, then why wouldn’t you believe you have received it? It would be an insult to God to believe anything less!
I have much more teaching on this important subject in my two latest audio series on faith, The Key to Answered Prayer and Saying What God Says. You can find these on the product page of my website, gregfritz.org.
Get your FREE MP3 audios by using Code: KEY23 at checkout or order it in USB or CD formats for only $24 at: https://gregfritz.org/product/key-answered-prayer/.