praying with the wrong motives
Judges 18:1-13 (JDV)
Judges 18:1 In those days, there was no king in Israel, and the Danite tribe was looking for territory to occupy. Up to that time no territory had been captured by them among the tribes of Israel.
Judges 18:2 So the Danites sent out five capable men from all their clans, from Zorah and Eshtaol, to scout out the land and explore it. They told them, “Go and explore the land.” They came to the hill country of Ephraim as far as the home of Micah and spent the night there.
Judges 18:3 While they were near Micah’s home, they recognized the accent of the young Levite. So they went over to him and asked, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?”
Judges 18:4 He told them, “This is what Micah has done for me: He has hired me, and I became his priest.”
Judges 18:5 Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God for us to determine if we will have a successful journey.”
Judges 18:6 The priest told them, “Go in peace. Yahveh is watching over the journey you are going on.”
Judges 18:7 The five men left and came to Laish. They saw that the people who were there were living securely, just like the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. There was nothing lacking in the land and no oppressive ruler. They were far from the Sidonians, having no alliance with anyone.
Judges 18:8 When the men went back to their relatives at Zorah and Eshtaol, their relatives asked them, “What did you find out?”
Judges 18:9 They answered, “Get up, let’s attack them, because we have seen the land, and it is very good. Why wait? Don’t hesitate to go and invade and take possession of the land!
Judges 18:10 When you get there, you will come to an unsuspecting people and a spacious land, because God has handed it over to you. It is a place where nothing on land is lacking.”
Judges 18:11 Six hundred Danites departed from Zorah and Eshtaol armed with weapons of war.
Judges 18:12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. This is why the place is still called the Camp of Dan today; notice it is west of Kiriath-jearim.
Judges 18:13 From there they traveled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah’s house.
praying with the wrong motives
With no king to give them guidance, these Danites look for a substitute, and they happen upon a Levite. They ask him to pray for them. But notice their specific request. They ask “Please inquire of God for us to determine if we will have a successful journey.” That is not specifically a prayer for God’s will. It is a prayer for God to bless their will. It is very easy for us to get into the habit of praying that prayer.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he told them to pray that God’s will be done, in the land as well as in the sky. This prayer begins will the understanding that God’s will — his purpose and desire — is more important than what I might happen to want.
The Danites wanted to take over some territory. It was an embarrassment for them that they had not expanded, so they were motivated by their own pride and shame.
Of the many things that can go wrong in prayer, this one — praying with the wrong motives — is especially dangerous.
There are at least two things that can go wrong with such a prayer. First, God could say no. He often refuses to give something if we ask with the wrong motive (James 4:3).
Second, the Lord may grant the request, and then we discover that having what we wanted is more of a curse than a blessing.