The “Word of Faith” movement has produced some strange theology in the church in America over the last 30 years. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Word of Faith,” here’s the fill-in: they’re the TV preachers, “apostles,” and evangelists who want you to simply “speak” what you want and simply “believe” and it will happen. Of course, part of their spiel is that “you must prove to God you’re sincere by sending MY ministry $50 in seed money so that God can bless you too.” (I’d rather be gagged with a big wooded spoon.) Paul talks about these charlatans throughout 2 Corinthians; they are simply little more than a distraction for serious Christians. But, for new Christians, weak Christians, baby Christians and especially people just about to come to faith who are facing a crisis in their lives, false teachers can suck these kind of folks right into their cul-de-sac and totally stunt their growth and ruin their bank account through the sin of presumption. James in chapter 4 of his letter, gives such a clear teaching on this subject, and how it plays out in someone’s prayer life, that I’ll simply let the Scriptures speak for themselves, and leave you a little room at the bottom to comment on “motives and prayer.”
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Jot down the importance of motive in one’s prayer life. Write down what HAS to be the attitude of anyone effectively praying.
… pray continually,
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.