Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James’ words and phrases used here in these passages, tie into his discussion from the previous chapters. Which is our works, the things that we do every day, display our desires and heart for God. To say it another way, what we spend our time doing, displays the focus of our hearts desire. And more importantly, how we use our God given time, talents and resources which God has blessed us with, gives away the true nature of our hearts. And this is the core message of what James is getting at in these verses. Which is when we ask God for things in a selfish manner. When we ask God for things to fulfill our wants, which stem from our self-centered desires, we have an unfulfilling and unproductive prayer life. Which in turn creates an unproductive and unfulfilling spiritual life, thus hindering our walk with Christ and our effectiveness for the kingdom of God. Therefore, what are we supposed to do? James has given us the answer, we submit to God. We are to follow the Holy Spirit in our lives and submit to His daily guidance.
We are to trust in God, look not to fulfil our will, but God’s will, through God’s guidance and not our desires. Moreover, through trials we are to remain steadfast in our faith and love for Jesus. And through our steadfastness, we will build up perseverance and our faith will become stronger. Through our trust in God and through our obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we develop spiritual maturity which leads to perseverance. And we can only accomplish this by first turning our lives and hearts over to Christ Jesus our Lord. This will then replace our self-centered desires with Christ-centered desires, which come from the Holy Spirit’s work with us. Whereby we now have a heart that causes us to ask the Lord for things appropriately, things to fulfill His will and work in our lives. Through which we have a more abundant life in Christ. We have to remember the privilege of prayer is communication and relationship with our Heavenly Father. Prayer allows us to build up our relationship with God and to better align our will with God’s will. Prayer was never meant as a means to gain more stuff for ourselves, nor to fulfill our desires. Rather, prayer is one of the many gifts of our salvation meant to deepen our relationship and communication with God.