"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 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. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."
James makes clear that our wars and squabbles come from our wants. We know how we are supposed to behave. But we also know what we want. The two don’t always match up. What we want isn’t usually what God wants. And we end up hurting others to get what we want. Parents want peace and quiet; so they get impatient with children. Children want to play; they grumble and exasperate parents.
James then says, “YET.” And he makes an interesting turn. The problem isn’t the getting, it’s the goal. We want to get something for ourselves. God wants to give us wisdom and other things, for His glory. We ask amiss, out of selfishness.
But God wants us to ask.
Redirect your goals, and then ask again. Don’t strive for more play time, kids, for yourselves. But you might ask for it to help your sister with her chores. Don’t strive for more free time or extra income, big people, to have more leisure time to yourself. But you might ask for the same thing to help your neighbor. Why are you after what you’re after?
Let us confess our selfish desires to the Lord.