I have had this sentence on my mind yesterday and today as I have gone about my business.
Of course, it is taken from James 4:2. James was writing about worldliness amongst Christians where passions and desires so drove people that they ended up striving and fighting amongst themselves. The underlying principle is that such Christians (and who is not in that number?) have yet to learn dependence on God in life. Hence, You do not have, because you do not ask.
The sentence has come up because I have been thinking about how things are developing at SPC. (They are never distant thoughts, truth be told.) The verse presents a challenge in two ways. Firstly, in the ever present temptation for me to think that our “success” depends on what I can do. Perceived self-sufficiency strikes at actual dependence upon God, and saps the prayer life.
The second challenge is for our church – for those who are committed in membership to this enterprise. There is always the temptation to believe that simply turning up on Sunday is enough. After all, what more can we do? The rationale kicks in as a backstop: in doing this are we not at the same time depending on God for the growth? Well, maybe so, and it is certainly great for people to “turn up”. But, here is the question – have we asked for what we want at SPC? Are we continuing to ask God? Have we got together to encourage one another to keep asking God?
God is sovereign. He will do as he wishes, according to his own purpose, and his purpose is good. But God uses means, and one of them is believing prayer. There is no excuse for not asking for what is on our hearts and depending on God for the results.