Our lifestyle impacts our prayer life. In the Bible, the book of James stresses the importance of pursuing wisdom from above. Wisdom is knowledge in action. Faulty wisdom leads to poor actions.
As a Christian (a follower of Jesus) we are called to be peacemakers. If we are not purveyors of peace, we will be sowers of discord.
- “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
- “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 4:18
James asks, “What causes quarrels and causes fights among you? Your passions!” The word passion in the Greek is hedone, which means strong desire, self-gratification. Our fights and quarrels are the results of self-gratification.
Having faith in God transforms us from self-seeking to serving others. Jesus modeled this best when He left Heaven and took the form of a man. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. The invitation to be a follower of Jesus comes with the following command,
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
Hedone is where we get our English word hedonism. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure or happiness as the sole or chief good in life. Hedonism is the opposite of the life of a Christian. And so, James uses the human desire of coveting to teach us essential truths on prayer and how to be faithful to God.
Lessons on Prayer
#1 You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly.
The word wrongly is translated from the Greek word, Kakos and has the implication of harmful and damaging. Wrong praying is not someone who lacks eloquence in praying but the one who asks for things that satisfy their sinful appetites.
God won’t answer selfish prayers that promote ungodliness. God is not a spiritual vending machine of self-gratification. Everything God does for His glory is always for our good.
In John 6, the disciples quizzed Jesus when they saw a man who was blind from birth and asked whose sin made him blind, his or his parents. Jesus replied neither, but that the works of God might be demonstrated in Him.
The works of God reveal the glory of God.
#2 Prayer needs to align our will with the will of God.
This is why James stressed the importance of having our minds aligned with wisdom from above.
When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, he asked God if there was any way for Him to escape the pending crucifixion. After more time in prayer, Jesus came to the place where He said, “Not my will but your will be done.”
Prayer recalibrates our will with God’s will, which is always best.
Are your prayers centered on satisfying your desires that will not contribute to making you righteous or godly? If so, you are going to be frustrated with prayer until you surrender your will with God’s will.
If your prayers need a refresh, then maybe it’s time to write out your prayers and attach a scripture promise with it to determine if the things you’re praying for is God’s will or not.
Give God permission to reshape your request so that what you’re asking for brings you closer to God.