3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”
I like this passage because James is calling us out on our prayer life. In continuation of his explanation of lust, we see how that leads to what we could see as “being cursed”. In other words, we ask God for blessings but He does not grant us any, then we get mad at Him because of it. How foolish are we?
I’ve mentioned before that when we ask God something, He grants it based on His will. This means that if we didn’t originally ask for something that He wanted us to have in the first place, He isn’t going to give it to us. We pray to win the lottery because we want to live a lavish life then get mad when He doesn’t give it to us. First of all, would you imagine what would happen if He granted everyone that wish? I’m thinking back to the movie “Bruce Almighty” when he replied “yes” to all of the prayer requests.
We pray for things in this world because we are in love with things of this world. God does not want us to live of this world so why would He give us things in accordance with it? That’s like telling a kid to eat healthy and then giving them a candy bar when they ask for it.
James here mentions the conflict of befriending the world in opposition to befriending God. The Spirit (God in us) desires to have our allegiance, as opposed to our allegiance or desires being toward the world. This is what the bible tells us God wants from us, our love and dedication: just as He is dedicated to and loves us. Has anyone ever loved someone who didn’t love you back? If so, how would you react to them asking something of you expecting you to follow through just because you love them? They would be taking advantage of your love: something that hurts more than them not loving you in the first place. So then, how should we expect God to bless us with things if we aren’t asking Him out of love but selfish desires?
Even more so, who are we to tell God that He is wrong? The creation telling the creator He screwed up. Yet this is what we do every day. We plead, pray, bargain for things we want out of selfishness and then curse God for not giving us what we want. Sounds like a 2 year old, doesn’t it? We are but whiney children, but He loves us anyway.
In realizing His will is what is best and aligning ourselves with this through our hearts, actions, and prayers, God will bless us accordingly. He will not only plant desires on our hearts but also help us accomplish them as we align our hearts with His and do not oppose Him. As we act selflessly in worship of our God, he in turn gives us the peace we so earnestly long for.
What are the motives behind your actions, thoughts, and prayers?