November 12, 2012

Asking for Guidance

James 4:1-3

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”
—James 4:3


It shouldn’t be difficult to ask for God’s guidance, should it? The Bible tells us we simply have to ask. And yet it’s amazing how often we end up feeling lost in the fog as we search for God’s direction.

James explains that not every prayer gets the same response from God. Sometimes we might ask and not receive because we ask with wrong motives. After all, how can we expect God to grant our requests if our motives are sinful?

For example, it would be foolish to ask for God’s help in robbing a bank. But if our motives are wrong, they’re usually a lot more subtle than that.

James’s warning about asking “with wrong motives” raises an important question. When we pray, we need to ask, “Just why am I making these requests?”

Speaking personally, I know that some of my requests come from a desire to see God’s work grow in my life. But often I may ask for those same things because I want to look good or I want to avoid some of the challenging faith-building experiences he can put before me.

All too often our requests are motivated by things like pride or revenge. For example, maybe you want your sister to see that you can be successful, or maybe you want to show your ex-spouse that you can still have a life.

Why are you asking what you are asking of God?

Lord, help us to ask for the things you long to give to us. We pray this in your name. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!