The Wrong Way to Pray

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3

If James says there is a wrong way to pray, a wrong way to ask, then it follows that there is a right way to ask, a right way to pray.

God’s reception of and interaction with prayer is conditional. One condition to God not hearing your prayers is envy.

Envy affects fellowship with the body and fellowship with God. Envy causes you to murder, fight and quarrel – even if you only do so in the hypocritical confines of your own heart. Envy causes you to demand things from God that are self-serving and self-glorifying.

You cannot be an envious, ungrateful, quarrelsome and covetousness person and expect God to listen to you. He will not. Envy is a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities. It’s not just wanting what someone else has but envy leads to negative feelings about the person and your own circumstances. Bitterness. Ingratitude. Inordinate longings. Strife. Quarrels and fights. Envy unsettles relationships and it unsettles prayer. Envy creates negative feelings about the person who has what you are coveting. It’s hard to prefer another or to think well of others when you hate them for what your coveting. Envy grabs hold of our desire for a better spouse, better job, more money, less belly fat, better cars, jobs, friends, families, homes and jobs and inspires a host of unholy thoughts and actions in response.

Continue reading “The Wrong Way to Pray”

Born To Trouble

Do you ever feel persecuted by your circumstances? Like trouble finds you, when all you are trying to do is be good and do good?  Marriage trouble, money trouble, tax trouble, mortgage trouble, family trouble. Trouble with your car or the fridge or a neighbor? Have you have wondered why?

It’s what I imagine David asked himself at the beginning of  2nd Samuel 10. I’m sure it’s what Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, asked himself once he was trapped by two armies far greater in number then his own. And I’m sure its what Eve asked herself the day she was walking in the garden and heard a strange serpentine voice. Continue reading “Born To Trouble”

Sanctification versus Justification

Westminster Larger catechism Q. 77.

Q. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 13, Section I.

They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

We see here the continuity and organic nature of these doctrines. Here are mentioned all the proceeding aspects of the Ordo Salutis; Effectual calling, regeneration, reception of a new heart and new spirit. They are not rigid. They are not spokes on a wheel. They are the roots, sinews, leaves, buds and branches of a glorious tree. They together make one thing. Continue reading “Sanctification versus Justification”

How we Change by changing diapers

The toil and circumstances of our lives are God’s means of sanctifying us. Our circumstances are administered to us like medicine, to address our specific heart issues. Whether you need more patience, peace, compassion, trust or kindness, you will find your circumstances address those deficiencies directly. They may not be the circumstances you think you need or challenges you think you need but we don’t know ourselves as well as God does.

We all need to grow in our faith and our circumstances are meant to show us our dependence on God’s provision, protection and goodness. We must submit to God’s will and seek His Spirit to have the grace for the toil and circumstances he has ordained for us or our toil and circumstances will overcome us. The circumstances of our lives work on our hearts like sandpaper or hammers. Our toil works on our hearts like the purifying fire of the crucible or the consuming flames of a house fire.  Continue reading “How we Change by changing diapers”