And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”
So Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
“We must keep our focus in check.” I think this of my favorite line from today’s reading. It is so true, but can be so hard at times. I can imagine myself in Esther’s shoes, or rather sandals. Sitting on a choice, “Do I seek change for myself? Or do I seek change for my people?” It would be easy to desire and pray for help for herself in this situation…for some sort of relief from the pressure that weighed on her shoulders. But instead she pushed forward with what God was directing her to do, and put the needs of her people above her own.
Like Darlene beautifully pointed out, this situation mirrors how we should approach our prayer life. Our pastor told us this little saying yesterday, “Need versus Greed.”
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
This made me think. It’s not as if I’m asking God to help me find 1 million dollars lying on the street, but I may be asking God for a promotion at work. Why? To further His Kingdom or to further my own? I may be asking God for strength to get through the day, and to accomplish all the tasks I have to do. But why? So I can look good in front of others or so I can do what He has called me to do that day.
I don’t think we intentionally say greedy prayers, but I do think that we should pay attention to our motives. About a year or so ago, this topic was brought up in church—the topic of what motivates our prayers. I continue to pray for my family’s well-being, for financial guidance when money gets tight, for restoration of relationships when they get rough. I don’t think James 4:3 is addressing this. But I did add a piece to my prayers, a piece that I try to pray throughout the day. I ask that God would open my eyes to areas during my day where I could do His work. I prayed that my family would show others His love, that we would see opportunities in which we could grow His kingdom.
I am a naturally greedy person; I think most people are. Not in a hording/not sharing kind of way. But in how it applies to our prayers. I want to automatically pray for myself—for a good day for me, for peace for me, for wisdom for me. The question that Darlene asks at the end of this section is not a condemning question. I see it as a growth question; an opportunity to grow for the better, an opportunity to be more intentional in our words that we lift up to our Father.