Question: Is it wrong to pray and ask God’s favor? Somebody I know has a job interview and there are several people interviewing for this job. I told the person to pray for the Lord to lead and guide and to give you favor. Well, this lady that I know of but don’t know, is always posting NAR [New Apostolic Reformation] stuff on Facebook and she had posted about praying for God’s favor. Anyway, I want to be biblical when I tell someone anything… so if that is something NAR people tell to do…”pray for God’s favor”, then I want to be careful.
Answer: It’s always good and biblical to examine what we believe and are saying to others, especially since false doctrine is so easily spread in our technological generation. Basically, the question above boils down to this- “Is it biblical for us to ask God to give us favor in our daily lives?” To answer this question, there are a few things we need to examine.
First, it’s important to remember everyone has definitions for the teachings they hold to. With that in mind, let’s define what we mean by “favor”. Many groups claiming to be Christian, groups such as the hyper-charismatic, Calvinist, and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) often focus on establishing God’s physical, earthly kingdom, which then leads to their followers focusing on earthly favor. There tends to be an emphasis on accumulating wealth, maintaining health, status of job, physical size and population of church buildings/attendance. Doctrine overemphasizing the earthly is rooted in earthly wisdom and typically connects “favor” from God to those areas mentioned above. And if a person following these teachings loses his job, gets sick, or cannot gain material wealth, there is often an assumption that he has fallen from God’s favor. But is this belief biblical?
The simple answer is no. The Lord, through the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” Philippians 4:11-12. As a born-again believer, Paul served the Lord faithfully, yet even he was not always granted earthly comforts. Just as it is with a child, it is not always to our benefit to receive every earthly desire. Because of our residing sinful, selfish natures, we don’t always have a proper perspective regarding what we really need. Ultimately, it is up to our heavenly Father to determine what will be for our good and for His glory.
Although we can say with biblical certainty that it is not always God’s will to give us every earthly benefit, there is no reason to conclude that the Lord NEVER desires to bless us with earthly provisions. To say that God’s favor is mainly centered on the earthly is not correct. However, to say that God’s favor excludes every earthly benefit is not proper either. Although Job lost every physical thing except his life, in the end, the Lord blessed him materially with twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10). (Of course, the Lord’s earthly blessings came only after Job received much needed spiritual understanding/blessing.) Biblically speaking, God’s favor may mean some physical blessings. Other times, it might mean withholding certain earthly things. In either case we can say with certainty that whether He gives or takes away, all He does is designed to help us mature spiritually, bearing much eternal fruit in Jesus.
May we never forget that everything the Lord does for His children is designed for us to decrease and Jesus to increase. No matter what we seek from the Lord, it ultimately boils down to what will be discussed in the next portion below. It ultimately depends upon God’s will.
There’s a clear difference between asking for favor from the Lord and believing we can demand/manipulate/control God into granting it to us. In God’s Word, there are many examples of both men and women seeking things from the Lord. Sometimes, like Gideon, they’re seeking direction for earthly concerns. Other times, there are examples of the spiritual, such as Solomon seeking heavenly wisdom to lead Israel in a godly direction. Regardless of the Scriptural example, every godly follower came to learn that God’s will is greater than his own. Jesus, when gripped with the reality and weight of becoming the sin sacrifice for all of humanity, prayed three separate times to Father, pleading for another way. However, just as every faithful and trusting child should, each time He concluded, “Father… nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.” (Matthew 26:36-46).
Learning to wholeheartedly submit to the Lord’s will only comes as we come to Jesus, believing that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Ultimately, we should never be simply seeking any favor other than that which will allow us to be more transformed into the image of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Romans 12:2)
There is nothing unbiblical with seeking the Lord’s earthly favor, provided we always remember two things. First, God’s earthly favor is always designed to lead us to our good and His glory. Instead of giving us earthly items, this may mean withholding certain things from us. Other times it may mean providing earthly things. Regardless, we are to use whatever we have been given as tools to serve Him, not ourselves. All avenues of earthly blessing are given with the purpose of magnifying Jesus in and through us. Secondly, we must always resign our will to His. Truly, our Heavenly Father knows best. How foolishly arrogant it would be for us to actually believe we could ever have a better plan than His. Ultimately, it is the Lord’s will and we must commend our hearts and minds to this eternal truth.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” 1 John 5:13-15.
There is a third and arguably most pertinent piece to this puzzle. When considering whether or not it’s biblical to seek God’s favor, we must also look at the bigger issue of our own heart toward the Lord regarding our prayer life in general. We can seek the Lord’s favor, understanding that what we desire should always lead to a greater understanding and knowledge of Jesus, however, we must also recognize the reality of our own very personal and daily need to be in step with Holy Spirit by being filled with His Word. We must recognize our need to keep short accounts with the Lord.
God’s Word has much to say about prayer. As we prepare to go before our Heavenly Father, here are a few Scriptures to carefully consider:
Jesus promises, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” John 15:7
“You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” James 4:3
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” James 5:16
As we come before the Lord in Jesus, we must be willing to allow the Lord to search our own hearts and minds. We must we willing to acknowledge our daily need for Him, turning from our dependence upon ourselves and embracing the truth revealed in God’s Word alone. We must turn from our sin and selfish desires. We must be willing to cling to Jesus, running to Him, not this world; not to Satan’s devices or men’s opinions. We must come before the Lord, our Lord, with humility, believing that God knows best and only has our best in mind. We must trust that our sins have been fully and freely washed away by the precious blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We must not seek to consume God’s favor upon ourselves, but rather be willing to give ourselves away, letting Jesus truly be our eternal Treasure, our All in All!
As David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prayed and penned, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.
He didn’t desire to be cleansed so he could simply be spiritually clean. He sought to be cleansed so he could be led in the way everlasting. And we know that this everlasting way isn’t simply to a place, but to a person- Jesus Christ. Jesus is not simply our Savior. He is our eternity. (John 17:3) He is our abundant life. He is the only One we should pursue! (Psalm 27:4)
Our total and complete desire should be to allow Jesus to transform our hearts and renew our minds to the point of only wanting what Jesus wants… only wanting Him. The Lord, through David, wrote, “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and He shall give You the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4.
No matter what we pray for, we should take time to allow the Lord to examine us, understanding that only He can purify or souls, only Jesus can be our robe of righteousness. Only then will we begin to grow in true righteousness. Only then will we cease from praying amiss.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:1-3
Note: Psalm 37 may serve as a beneficial study in light of the topics covered in this brief Q & A article.