Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Previously we discussed the issue of people’s unfulfilled desires and lust causing them to act in inappropriate ways. Specifically we discussed that these unmet percieved needs were causing the members of the churches to which James was writing to argue and quarrel among themselves. The root of this particular issue came from the source from which these believers were seeking their wisdom. As we learned, their desires were not being met because they were not asking God.
Suddenly James says something which on the surface seems to be contradictory. First he basically says: “You don’t get because you don’t ask.” Now, James is telling us: “You ask, but you still don’t get.” Why on earth would this be so?
James, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has been kind enough to answer that question in a very direct way. We ask, but do not receive because we ask wrongly, “that ye may consume it on your lusts.” Here, again, lust has nothing to to necessarily with a sexual lust, but merely the presence of a strong desire for something. Some versions say, “so you can spend it on your pleasures.“
The problem is, God is not a giant cosmic candy machine where we put in a prayer quarter and get a wish granted. How are we to pray? We are to pray for God’s will to be done. Jesus taught us that in the Model prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) In Verse 10 of this passage Jesus instructed us to pray saying, “Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus Himself prayed this way; as He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, even though the man Jesus certainly wished to not die the horrible death he was facing said, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”(Matthew 26:36-56)
If we pray for what WE want and not what God wants, our prayers will go unanswered. If we pray to be released from some calling God has clearly revealed to us, that prayer will go unanswered. If we pray to obtain something God’s Word has clearly revealed to be sinful, that prayer will go unanswered.