John 6:22-27 (NKJV)22 On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone--23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks--24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, "Rabbi, when did You come here?"26 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
I read the following post a few weeks ago and it started me thinking about my own faith.
Which interests you more—who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what He can give us than we are about getting to know who He is.But this is nothing new—Jesus had this problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives.
There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit.
We must remember that our needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever. If our prayers have dealt only with presenting our requests to the Lord, we’ve missed a great opportunity to get to know the One with whom we’ll spend eternity. Let’s invest time in pursuing intimacy with Christ. Then we can enjoy the benefits of that relationship forever.
How much of your communion with God is devoted to your needs—even legitimate ones? Are you spending any time getting to know the Lord? Although God delights in our prayers and tells us to pray about everything, He also wants us to come to Him just because we enjoy being with Him. - Giga Faith - Selfish Faith And A Demanding Spirit
Many Christians say that if we have faith we can have whatever we ask. But is what we ask coming from our faith or selfishness coming from a “demanding spirit”?
Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV) 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God.23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Romans 4:17 (NKJV) (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed--God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
Asking In God’s Will Is Not A Demand
I agree that if we ask for things within God’s will for us that He will give those things to us. Maybe not the way we want them or when we want them but He will give us those things we ask because we will be so in tune with His will that our will and His will be the same. But when we ask asking amiss, which means asking something inappropriate or something wrong, what we want is for our own benefit and is not grounded in love for God or for others. When we don’t get the answers that we want we get frustrated. The passion that comes from frustration can sometimes cause our prayers to become demands.
James 4:2-3 (NKJV)2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
The key is to ask according to God’s will.
1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Here’s another scripture Christians like to quote;
John 15:7-8 (NKJV)7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
The Greek word translated “ask”, in this scripture, is aiteo. Aiteo does mean to demand or to insist, but it doesn’t give the license to be arrogant or rude to God. Aiteo is used, in the New Testament, to portray a person addressing a superior. The person may insist or demand that a certain need be met, but he approaches and speaks to his superior with respect and honor.
Jesus tells us to pray and ask authoritatively and in faith. He tells us to come boldly when we ask but if we take His comments in context with everything that He says we will realize that asking authoritatively and boldly is done in faith not in a demanding manner as if we were a superior or an equal with the authority to force the response we want.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The word translated request is the word aiteo. Paul urges the Philippians and us to be bold, and authoritative but grateful and with thanksgiving not arrogance. When we ask with gratefulness and thanksgiving what we will get from God is peace. Peace that is impossible to describe, peace that will protect our minds, and our wills.
The parable of the landowner who hired workers and different times of the day and then paid everybody the same wage can give help us to not have a demanding spirit but to always ask in faith.
Matthew 20:1-15 (NKJV)1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,4 and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went.5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?'7 They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.'8 So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.'9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner,12 saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.'13 But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?'
This Is not a story about good or bad labor relations. It is a story about God and His will and His way. We see that God rewards us as He pleases. It’s our job to delight in Him instead of demanding from Him. That’s the way to look at another scripture those with a demanding spirit use to say that God will give you any and every thing you ask. (“What Does It Mean To Delight Yourself In The Lord”.)
Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Everything that God does is good. He’s merciful. He’s perfect. He is love and He extends that love to us. If it had not been for the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross we would still be burdened with the weight of sin and the impending penalty of eternal separation from God. If it had not been for Jesus God would be perfectly just if He didn’t extend any blessings at all. Our desire should be to please not demand from Him. You already have spiritual riches beyond what you deserve. So guard your heart against a demanding spirit, and choose to delight in the Lord.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.