Praying Badly

Scripture: James 4:3, ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’


Observations: James talks about how we fight and covet and kill in order to get what we want, but the reason we don’t get it is because we don’t ask God (v1-2). But even when we do ask God we don’t get what we want because we ask selfishly, in order to ‘spend what we get on our pleasures.’ The NIV translates the issue as asking ‘with wrong motives.’ The Greek just has we ask ‘badly,’ or ‘incorrectly.’ The problem is we are motivated by our selfish desires. We don’t pray for God’s glory, but that he might glorify us. We don’t ask that God may bless others, but that he may bless us. We don’t ask God that his will might be done, but that our will might be done.


Application: What motivates you when you pray – your own desires and pleasures, or God’s will and his glory? The truth is we won’t find joy and wholeness by pursuing our sinful desires. It’s only in trusting in God and living according to his will that we find our deepest needs being met. Don’t get sucked in to trading eternal joy, for temporary pleasure, or security, or comfort.


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You made people to enjoy many things, but ultimately You made me to enjoy You, and live in relationship with You through Jesus Christ. But Lord, so often I put my own pleasure before pleasing You. So often I pursue my desires instead of Yours. So often I pray to You in order to get what I want instead of asking what You want. Lord, forgive my sinful tendency to be selfish, and help me to put You and others before myself, like Jesus put me before Himself. Lord, help me to pray focusing on You and Your will and Your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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