What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.
Holman Christian Standard Version
This was our passage in Sunday School this morning. The discussion went something like this:
“Now, I can’t imagine any of us actually murdering because we couldn’t get something.”
“But there’s that passage where Jesus equates anger with murder, and I can see any of us getting angry about not getting something we want. Seeing things other people have and we don’t.”
“Not just things. There’s sleep, time.”
“And, really, this passage is very clear why we don’t have what we want: ‘You do not have because you do not ask,’ (makes me think of an earlier blog post) or ‘You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure.’ We just studied last summer that the point of prayer was to bring glory to God, not fulfilling our wants or needs.”
“So if we ask for something for ‘spending on our own pleasures‘ we’re working against the express purpose of prayer, and there should be no surprise it doesn’t work.”
~ ~ ~
Now, I know there are a number of ways and reasons God says “no” to prayers: His will for us, timing, protecting us from what we think we want…
But I think it is good, too, to run our unanswered prayers though this James 4:3 filter and see if we need to be convicted about a wrong attitude in the way or for what we’re asking.
And listening to the group I had new things to think about: Time, sleep, even children, are things that can be wanted with wrong motive.
Amy, this really spoke to me. I’ve been downright angry with God about something I don’t have (kids). Never thought of it this way before but I think I”ll be spending some time in this passage in James this week.
Thanks for sharing!
I’m glad God used it for you, Dianne.
That’s a heavy one, Amyjane.
I have wondered more than once if wanting to write or finish writing my “novel” is something that I am doing for the wrong motive.
I could drive myself crazy with that one.
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I’m glad you mentioned that God does not always give even when we ask. Sunday’s sermon was “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11: 39,40). But if you look at James with that intention (to filter our attitudes), which is what you get if you look at the context and not just pulling out “You have because you do not ask” like so many like to do, they both make sense in light of one another. :)