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Asking with the Wrong Motives

James 4:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,[1] so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

[1] Lit., wickedly or badly

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (4:3)

THE BOOK OF JAMESTheir prayers were toward selfish ends, as they had the wrong motives. We think of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, as he initially sought to waste his father’s money on his selfish needs. (Lu 15:14) Paul tells us that there is a “constant friction among people, who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Tim. 6:5) Jesus said that our prayers should not extend beyond asking for “our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11) He went on to say, we should ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to us.’ (Matt. 6:33) Many do not realize that God does not listen to everyone’s prayers, just those of the righteous. Who are the righteous? They are those, who are doing their best in their circumstances to live by God’s Word daily. (Pro. 15:29; 28:9) We must be humble when we are praying. (Lu 18:9-14) We need to evidence our prayers by working on behalf of those prayers. It would do very little good to pray to God to better understand the Bible and then never read the Bible or reading any books on how to understand the Bible correctly. It will do very little good to pray for a job when unemployed if we never fill out applications because we are sitting around waiting on God to find us a job. It evidences our faith when we work on behalf of what we pray for, as this is what God expects. – Hebrews 11:6.

We are fooling ourselves if we are using God in our prayers simply for what we can get out of him. This sort of prayer is actually idolatry. How we may ask, is it idolatry? The pagans believe they can force a god to give them whatever they want by using special words or phrases in their prayers. Jesus told us plainly, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matt. 6:8) We can pray for things, but what we pray for must be in harmony with God’s will and purposes. If we are praying for a job that is going to require us to work 65 hours a week, causing us to have no family life, and miss our Christian meetings, do we believe that God is going to bless our efforts?