You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings. James 4:2-3 CEB
When I was young, I tried to solve my prayer problems with hard work.
I continued to redouble my efforts because I was convinced that my evil intentions in prayer were the cause of my desert-like prayer experience. But I also began to question my own prayer posture. The more I read and studied, the less convinced I was that God’s greatest desire for me was to feed him a list of requests, let’s be honest - demands, for how he was to show up and work in the world.
I continued this elaborate ritual of prayer but all joy drained from the experience; even my school supplies could not comfort me.
In 1986 my brother got sober; to support him, I began to embrace the 12 steps. Step 11 blew me away. Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.
What do you notice about this prayer? What is the objective of this step? What is promised? What is not promised? I thought prayer was about solving problems and feeling better. It was a relief to discover that prayer was possible and even sacred without solving a particular problem and even if I did not feel better as a result of my prayer efforts.