September 03, 2018

The Turn of the Heart

James 4:1-10

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives. . . .

—  James 4:3

Prayer connects our heart with God’s heart. For many people, the word heart represents only their emotions, especially feelings like love, sadness, and hope. It’s in the mind that logic resides, many will say. The heart is for feeling and the brain is for thinking, and the two are often pitted against each other.

The Bible teaches, however, that the heart is the center of every aspect of being human: our reason, our emotions, and our will. The heart directs our affections, shapes our decision making, and determines our ultimate allegiances. This is why Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Today’s Bible reading contains a harsh rebuke of people whose hearts have turned away from God. It affects all their thinking, decision making, motives, emotions, and behaviors. The spiritual fallout of a broken relationship with God is that prayer is rendered ineffective.

But nestled in this passage are words of hope. No matter how far our hearts may wander from God, he promises to be near when we turn to him. That’s because he is always near and caring for us (see Matthew 28:20; Philippians 4:4-6). One renewing encounter with God can change everything. And it’s always just one prayer away.

Lord, thank you for always being near. Help me not to wander or turn my heart away from you. Purify my heart so that I may treasure and follow only you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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