Why You Don’t Get What You Want
James 4:2b-3 (NIV)
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
The first two verses of James chapter four tell us that we fight and quarrel because we don’t get what we want. And why don’t we get what we want? Enter today’s passage.
First of all, we don’t take our requests to God. Perhaps its because we know that what we desire isn’t actually of God and so we don’t dare take it to Him in prayer. I mean, why would you? You already know He won’t agree so why bother? Instead, we manipulate and fight and quarrel in order to achieve our desired end… but that only frustrates us because God is not in it.
From there James makes it even more confrontational. Even when we DO take it to God, our motives can be totally sinful. Someone once put it this way:
"Though perhaps you may sometimes pray for success against your enemies, yet it is not your aim to improve the advantages you gain, so as to promote true piety and religion either in yourselves or others but pride, vanity, luxury and sensuality are what you would serve by your successes, and by your very prayers. You want to live in great power and plenty, in voluptuousness and sensual prosperity and thus you disgrace devotion and dishonor God by such gross and base ends and therefore your prayers are rejected."
Ouch! That hurts. Jeremiah hit it on the head when he said that the heart is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9) and that can even show up in our prayers and petitions before a Holy God! So, the next time you make petitions before God, make sure you check your motives. If you can’t lay them before His holy throne… you can’t expect Him to give them to you.