Question:

I have a question: I asked God for something and I hoped that He will help me out in it because I know I depend on Him. For some reason, every time I think I have sined I seem to be really concerned about sinning because I think that God is going to punish me and that He won't help me out on what I asked Him for. So I repent so He won't be mad at me and because I think He is still going to help me out on what I asked for if I repent for my sins.

That does not mean that I'm only being sorry just to get what I want, I also think that is bad and that I want to be reconciled to God.

Before I even asked for something, I was always like that. Every time I think I sinned I confess it to God and asked for forgiveness. But now I seem to be to concerned about what I asked for. I do repent for my sins, but I also have the other thing in mind.

Am I wrong in what I am doing? Does this make me a hypocrite? If I am wrong, is there a way that I can get through this and make things right?


Answer:

"Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:3-5).

I think I understand what you are asking. You are worried about how sincere you are being when you need to ask God for a personal favor, but you also need to ask Him to forgive your personal sins. What you should realize is that there is no conflict between the two requests. We are supposed to go to God when we realize we've done wrong. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). We are also supposed to come to God with personal requests. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

If a person is involved in sin and has no intention of leaving them, such a person should not expect God to listen to his prayers. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (Psalm 66:18). So also a person who asks God solely for things for his own personal pleasure should not expect God to answer such prayers. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

But having more than one reason to come to God in prayer doesn't make you a hypocrite. Nor it is bad that at different times different things will strike you as being more pressing at the moment.

I see what you mean. What are some examples in asking God for things of one's personal pleasure? Is it like asking for the lottery or something?

That would be a good example, since the basis of gambling is wrong. Another would be to ask for a raise at work or a better job so that you had more spending money, even though you have adequate funds at the moment. Or asking that a really pretty girl falls in love with you because you want a beautiful wife.

About the really beautiful girl thing: Is it bad that you desire it or is it just bad if you ask God for it? I know you can't ask God to make a girl fall in love with you because He will not change another person's fellings just for you. But is it bad if you ask Him to help you impress a girl that you are in love with? Like giving you an opportunity to spend time with her? Or let's say that you have problems with your wife, she left you and you want her back. Is that bad to ask for?

What many people do is only consider the surface instead of the depths. We all appreciate beauty and having a beautiful wife would be nice, but physical beauty doesn't last. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30). So what is really more important, asking God for a woman who is physically beautiful, or asking God for help finding a lifetime companion?

How do you know if the girl you think you are in love with is really a good selection for a wife? Wouldn't it be better to ask God for help in falling in love if she is well suited to be your companion, but if not, then don't you want your eyes opened so you won't make a mistake?

The last case is a bit different because husbands and wives are supposed to dwell in love with each other. So asking God for help in winning her back, help in seeing and correcting your own flaws that drove her away, wisdom in helping her in overcoming her own problems, and kindness toward the children who want both of their parents together and in love, those types of things are not wrong.

What James is warning about is asking with the wrong motives. So a husband asking for his wife back solely because he's dying for sex or because he is tired of cooking for himself is asking for the wrong reasons.

So think about why you want what you are asking, and consider whether you are better off asking about the need instead of the surface appearances.

I see what you mean. So if you ask for something that you are not suppose to ask, is that sinful? Are there any consequences in that? A good example can be if you are on a sports team and you ask God to help you win the championship. These were the kind of things that you were talking about right?

If you ask for something that is sinful, or you ask with sinful motives, then it would be a sin because in the end you are asking God to participate in sin. Using your example, much would depend on why someone desired to win a game. Probably the majority of the time a person wants to win because of pride.

When a person asks for wrongful things, the Bible says God doesn't answer. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Isaiah told Israel that God wasn't listening to their prayers because of the sins in their life. "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood" (Isaiah 1:15).

All sins have consequences. Not receiving an answer is a consequence of one sort. If you are imagining that God would purposely make you lose your game because you asked with the wrong motives; well, God doesn't operate in a vindictive fashion. But if losing a game would teach you lessons in humility and good sportsmanship, then such might happen at times. "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives"" (Hebrews 12:5-6).