Day two: Is it wrong to pray for Blessings? James 4:3 Numbers 22-24
God is pleased to hear the prayers of His people. But we must be careful to have the right motivations and intentions as we approach Him. As that young Christian, I was excited to learn that I could ask God for blessing in specific things or situations. So, I started lifting up all kinds of requests, but with the answer I wanted already in my mind. I hadn’t yet grasped a very important truth about prayer: God always answers us, but not always in the way we expect. Thoughts: It’s never wrong to pray for His blessing for things we hope for. But I came before God with an agenda, seeking my will to be done. Over time I became aware that when I did that, I was leaning on my own wisdom, thinking I knew better than the Lord what was best for me or for others. The more I’ve learned about God’s goodness, the less I feel the need to defend my “wants” to Him. I’m better now at getting out of God’s way, and I look forward to seeing how He will work.
Balaam was a wicked prophet in the Bible and is noteworthy because, although he was a wicked prophet, he was not a false prophet. That is, Balaam did hear from God, and God did give him some true prophecies to speak. However, Balaam’s heart was not right with God, and eventually he showed his true colors by betraying Israel and leading them astray.
In Numbers 22—24, we find the story about Balaam and the king of Moab, a man called Balak. King Balak wanted to weaken the children of Israel, who on their way to Canaan had moved in on his territory. Balak sent to Balaam, who lived in Mesopotamia along the Euphrates River (Numbers 22:5), and asked him to curse Israel in exchange for a reward. Balaam was apparently willing to do this but said he needed God’s permission (verse 8). Balaam, of course, had no power, in himself, to curse Israel, but, if God were willing to curse Israel, Balaam would be rewarded through Balak. God told Balaam, “You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed” (verse 12). King Balak then sent “other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first” (verse 16), promising a handsome reward. This time God said, “Go with them, but do only what I tell you” (verse 20).
Balaam’s name and story became infamous, and he is referred to several times in the New Testament. Peter compares false teachers to Balaam, “who loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude echoes this sentiment, associating Balaam with the selling of one’s soul for financial gain (Jude 1:11). Finally, Jesus speaks of Balaam when He warns the church in Pergamum of their sin: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14). Satan’s tactics haven’t changed all that much. If he cannot curse God’s people directly, he will try the back-door approach, and idolatry and sexual immorality are his go-to temptations.
There’s a clear difference between asking for favor from the Lord and believing we can demand/manipulate/control God into granting it to us. In God’s Word, there are many examples of both men and women seeking things from the Lord. Sometimes, like Gideon, they’re seeking direction for earthly concerns. Other times, there are examples of the spiritual, such as Solomon seeking heavenly wisdom to lead Israel in a godly direction. Regardless of the Scriptural example, every godly follower came to learn that God’s will is greater than his own. Jesus, when gripped with the reality and weight of becoming the sin sacrifice for all of humanity, prayed three separate times to Father, pleading for another way. However, just as every faithful and trusting child should, each time He concluded, “Father… nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.”
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”Numbers 6:24-26
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. Psalms 113:3
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
And all these things will be added to you. Who determines the things?
When we speak down on ourselves and open up curses upon ourselves. Example: Time is money.
Always keep and protect your identity in Christ and avoid the negative thoughts that tear down.
Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Psalms 112:1-4
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. Acts 3:6
Radical materialism is stealing blessings from our lives.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. Psalms 112:5-8
We are many times because of sin not able to receive the blessings God has for us.
We must model the Gospel so that others can see the blessing of knowing Christ.
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
No matter what we pray for, we should take time to allow the Lord to examine us, understanding that only He can purify or souls, only Jesus can be our robe of righteousness. Only then will we begin to grow in true righteousness. Only then will we cease from praying amiss.
When considering whether or not it’s biblical to seek God’s favor, we must also look at the bigger issue of our own heart toward the Lord regarding our prayer life in general. We can seek the Lord’s favor, understanding that what we desire should always lead to a greater understanding and knowledge of Jesus, however, we must also recognize the reality of our own very personal and daily need to be in step with Holy Spirit by being filled with His Word. We must recognize our need to keep short accounts with the Lord.
There is nothing unbiblical with seeking the Lord’s earthly favor, provided we always remember two things. First, God’s earthly favor is always designed to lead us to our good and His glory. Instead of giving us earthly items, this may mean withholding certain things from us. Other times it may mean providing earthly things. Regardless, we are to use whatever we have been given as tools to serve Him, not ourselves. All avenues of earthly blessing are given with the purpose of magnifying Jesus in and through us. Secondly, we must always resign our will to His. Truly, our Heavenly Father knows best. How foolishly arrogant it would be for us to actually believe we could ever have a better plan than His. Ultimately, it is the Lord’s will and we must commend our hearts and minds to this eternal truth.
Israel’s blessing that comes from Abraham: I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.
The promise to Adam and to Noah and to Abraham was to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Jesus bore the curse for all those who no longer rely on their works, but lean on him. To change our hearts from cold to hot. From calloused to feeling. From shrunken to expanded. From death to life. The Blessed Life Beholds Christ.
Obedience to Jesus holds a lot of blessings and rewards. He has a blessed life for us to live out, good works prepared for us since before the foundations of the world.
Thank you for another great day of Zoom Battle Prayer.