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  • Writer's pictureJonathan George

Muddled Motives

Kids Bible Devotional for March 21, 2024

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Focus Verse

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (NKJV)

Jump Start

Just rub the magic bottle and the genie will grant you three wishes.

You’ve probably heard the famous trope about the genie that grants three wishes to the person who sets him free from the bottle. In 1992, Disney produced the animated film Aladdin that told the story of a poor commoner who falls for the beautiful princess Jasmine. With the help of the humorous genie, Aladdin is turned from a pauper into a prince.

Sadly, many approach prayer in much the same way as Aladdin with the genie. We need only to ask in prayer, believing, and God will grant our every request. We need faith, this is true. But God sees the motivations behind our requests. He also sees what we cannot see and will act in accordance with our faith and His will. Jesus said that the Father knows what we have need of before we ask. Emphasis on the word “need”, not on our wants, which could be two entirely different things.

Today's Devotion

Ava raced into her mother’s study. “Mom, we’ve got to get a horse!”

Her mother looked up from her laptop. “A horse? And why is that?”

“I just came from Ashley’s house, and they have a beautiful horse named Rosie,” Ava said. “She let me pet her. She is so friendly. Can we get a horse?”

“Do you know how to ride a horse?” Mom asked.

“Well, no, but I can take lessons.”

Mother leaned back in her chair. “Have you researched how to care for a horse or thought about where to stable the animal? I don’t think Mrs. Ackerman next door would appreciate a horse wandering into her rose garden.”

“Well, no. But how hard could it be?”

“My guess is that if you haven’t researched how to care for a horse, you haven’t looked into the costs of owning one. Where would you get the money for the horse, stable rental, feed, and for veterinarian services?”

“Didn’t Dad get a bonus? Maybe we can afford it.” Ava danced on her toes. “Please, Mommy, I really want a horse.”

Mother chuckled derisively. “You do remember the appointment with the orthodontist a couple of weeks ago, right? She said you needed braces. That’s where your dad’s bonus is going, if you must know. So, tell me, which is more important: a horse or straight teeth?”

Ava looked down at the floor. “I guess straight teeth,” she muttered. “I just think it would be fun to have a horse.”

“I understand, sweetie. But buying something just because it can be fun is not always the right motive. This is a great object lesson on wants and needs, though. You know who is the best at separating wants and needs? God. What if God gave us everything we prayed for just because we wanted it?”

“I guess we would be selfish,” replied Ava.

“That’s correct. And we wouldn’t need faith, right? Our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of even before we ask and even more so than your father and me. That’s why we pray over every decision we make.”

Ava frowned. “I guess I’ll never have a horse.”

“I have a suggestion,” Mom said. “Maybe Ashley will let you tag along when she goes to care for Rosie. This way you can learn more about horses and still enjoy time around them. And it won’t cost you a thing, except your time. Doesn’t mean we’ll get one, but at least you’ll be better educated.”

“That’s a great idea,” Ava said, bolting for the door. “I’ll call her now and ask.”

Wrap Up

God hears every prayer but does not always answer them as we think He should. He understands our hearts better than we do. Also, He can see not only what we have need of today, but into the future.

Our motives are also important when we pray. This is the point of today’s verse from James 4. Are we asking God for things just because we want more or to avoid difficulty just because we don’t like to be uncomfortable?

Like you do with your own parents or caregivers, will you trust that He has your best interests at heart even when He seems slow to answer or takes you in a different direction?

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