You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. – James 4:2-3
2 Kings 2:9-15
9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.”
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”
11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.
12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.
13 Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River.
14 He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided, and Elisha went across.
15 When the group of prophets from Jericho saw from a distance what happened, they exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!”
There is a dreaded encounter that many of us experienced. We wind up standing in checkout line with our groceries. And lo and behold, in front of us, there is a harried mom with a spoiled, strong-willed two-year-old. The mom is doing damage control and trying to keep it together. But the child is out of control reaching for things, demanding things, and throwing a temper tantrum when it does not get its own way.
Sad to say, as children of the King, we too often act like spoiled children.
We ask and do not receive, because we ask wrongly, to spend it on our pleasures. We often do not recognize our selfishness and desire for self-gratification. We want stuff! So often our intent is shortsighted, and we only want to satisfy our own desires for pleasure and short-term gain. We are myopic, the Father is not. The Father hears our requests, but He also discerns our motivations.
We might call this Prayer 1.0 which seeks primarily to fulfill self-centered desires. The Greek word translated passions or pleasures is hedone. It connotes pleasure, gratification, enjoyment. In the New Testament, it focuses on only physical pleasure and it is used figuratively used of desire, appetite, and lust. The English word hedonist is derived from this word.
Prayer 2.0 is quite different. Prayer 2.0 is God-centered. It seeks to honor the Father and advance His kingdom purposes. The apostle John presupposes that we wish to please the Father and not ourselves. .
1 John 5:14-15
14 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.
REFLECT & PRAY
Too often we are spiritual two-year-olds. We need to come to grips with this and grow up.
Father when I search my heart, I find a great deal of self-interest. Indeed, I am self-centric. Encourage me to become God-centric and to seek Your kingdom above all else.
Do not be afraid to ask for great things! The Father is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Elisha had been a PIT, Prophet In Training. Elijah had been Elisha’s spiritual mentor and father (2 Kings 2:12).
When he asked for double portion of the spirit of Elijah it might seem a bit odd and self-aggrandizing to us. But in the culture of that day, Elisha requested of Elijah what an eldest son would expect of a father in Israel: a double portion of the inheritance.
Elisha was the Father’s choice as Elijah’s successor. Elisha had his sights set on being a devoted and successful servant of the Father. He aspired to be a powerful and effective prophet of the living God. The obstacles were great, and the road was tough. Elisha wanted to be abundantly equipped for the task the Father invited him to participate in.
The double portion that Elisha requested was the privilege of the Father’s richest blessing on his life. Such a gift was not Elijah’s to give. Elijah could not guarantee this double portion, because it was the Father’s prerogative alone to bestow the blessing of His Spirit.
A double portion of the spirit of Elijah was exactly what the Father intended for Elisha. Elisha’s God-centric desire was heard and granted. Elisha carried on the work of Elijah.
Luke 11:13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Elijah is taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. He became the first rocket man. The mission-critical request of Elisha was granted, and he becomes Elijah 2.0.