What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. -James 4:1-3
James 4:3 is one of the most abused passages in scripture, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” How often in your life have you really really wanted something? You want it so bad that you decided that you were going to pray until you got it. God, I really want that new job, God I really want a new car, God I really want those cool shoes that everybody has. You pray and pray and pray and then finally a day comes, and you still don’t get it. In this situation, we tend to react poorly. ARGH! This prayer stuff doesn’t work I’m never praying again. God says pray for stuff then you get it.
But James tells us in verse 3 that God is not a vending machine, maybe not in so many words (I don’t think they had vending machines in the James’ time). Prayer is one of hardest concepts for us to understand especially when it comes to asking for things. When we make prayers of petition we always want the answer to be yes right away but God is not our employee.
It is unfortunate when we view prayer as successful only when we get exactly what we want. God knows better than we do. Sometimes getting what we want isn’t as important as getting what we need. Prayer is about trusting God, and if you ever read something that gives you steps on how to get your prayers answered “Yes” throw it out and walk away. God’s not really into bargaining and sees us all as equals in his love.