1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3 NIV)
Could it be that what I’m asking of God is all wrong? Could it be that my prayers are a better reflection of my wants instead of God’s will for my life? There have been times in my life when I’ve been disappointed in God because He didn’t answer my prayer in the way that I wanted it answered. I know many people who have been more than disappointed. After feeling like God was distant and unconcerned they simply folded up their faith and headed out the door.
James asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” When we want something, be it a new job, new car, new lease on life, a new day that is different from the old days we’ve been experiencing, a better situation for our family, a new report of hope from the doctor who has told us that things look grim, or… The list describing the “somethings” we want is long. Our unmet desires, our prolonged fixation, can take over and make us candidates for OCD rehab. When we pray and pray and pray and yet we don’t get the “something” we’ve been longing for we can become distant, angry, and even hard for others to be around.
We become like little children who are told “No” and then fall on the floor and throw a fit. The child thinks, “Dad is so mean. He doesn’t care about me.” When the child repeatedly asks and receives the same answer, all of his frustration in not getting what he wants boils over into a fit. Hopefully we don’t fall in the floor and kick and scream, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility when we don’t get what we want.
Today’s verses remind me that there is another option other than God doesn’t care about me or that He is distant or mean. Maybe I’m asking for the wrong things. God’s denial of what I want is an opportunity for me to trust in His infinite love and knowledge of what is best for my life. God’s silence is not evidence of His lack of concern–it may very well be because of His concern that He is silent. Will I trust Him when I don’t get what I want? Will I see Him as my greatest need instead of what I want, what I crave? That is a hard pill for me to swallow, but I’ve lived long enough to know that I must trust Him rather than me.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will transform my prayers so that they better reflect Your will for me instead of what I want for me.