James 4:1-3 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
Once again James deals with the thought of unmet desires. Having rebuked some for the sin of prayerlessness in verse 2, James now confronts the sin of purity in one’s prayer life. In verse 3 James gives us three graphic pictures of this sinful prayer and they all revolve around the person praying. James begins with the sickly prayer as pictured in “ye ask amiss.” “Amiss” means diseased, badly, evil, or sick. The individual has not given sufficient forethought to their request if answered; their prayer would do more to harm the kingdom of God rather than help. The second picture is that of a sensual prayer as pictured in “your lusts.” “Lust” means sensual pleasure or delight. This particular prayer finds its origin in the desires of our flesh and not in accordance to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. This prayer is all about meeting the desires and appetite of the old man! The last picture is that of the selfish prayer as pictured in “may consume.” “Consume” means to waste or spend in a bad sense. This is a prayer that’s all about me! This was the type of prayer offered by the mother of James and John in Matthew 20:21. If answered, it would elevate her status among the religious elite! Have you ever wondered why God was not answering your prayers? Your fruitless petitions may be God’s response to the impure motives of your prayers. Are you asking God to use you so that you might glorify His name or gloat in your accomplishment? Are you asking God to bless a relationship so that together you may serve Him or to satisfy your lustful passions? Jesus gave the disciples the pattern for prayer; a pattern that was God-centered and not man-centered! “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” (Luke 11:2). Prayer becomes sinful when it’s all about you, and not all about Him!