James 4 v. 1 – 3
‘What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so 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 addresses what he sees as the root causes of conflict and quarrels – selfish desires or ambitions – ‘the desire for position or influence, the desire to get even, the desire to protect ourselves from criticism, or the desire to have an easy, comfortable life’.
Quite often, says James, we get ourselves into these conflicts by not taking them to God in the first place –
‘Prayerlessness is a sign that we are trying to run things in our own strength, for our own good…James says ‘you don’t have something because you didn’t ask the one Person who can give it.’
But we also don’t get what we ask for in prayer, James says, because our motives can be wrong (again, self-serving).
‘James is not talking about praying for a loved one to be healed, or an awful situation to be stopped. He is talking about praying with wrong motives – asking God to rubber-stamp our agenda.
Our prayers should not be about getting God to do what we want, but about seeking to love to do what He wants.’
(Quotes from Explore : By The Book, Timothy Keller, Sam Allberry)
help me to turn to You
all the more
in times of personal conflict,
that I may understand the root causes,
that I may see my own selfish desires and motives,
that I may ask You for the right things.
May I learn the true wisdom
of taming the tongue,
and pursuing it’
and every day.