James 4:1-3: What causes fights and what causes quarrels among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
One Sunday at church a little girl named Amy heard that God answers every prayer. She became ecstatic. That night Amy knelt beside her bed and asked God to make her brown eyes turn blue and climbed into bed, confident that the next morning she would awake with brilliant blue eyes. When she woke the next morning Amy rushed to her looking glass, but to her dismay a pair of brown eyes stared back at her. It was then that young Amy Carmichael realized something that many of us never learn- that God always answers prayer, but sometimes his answer is no. (Source: Amy Carmichael by Janet and Geoff Benge)
Have you ever asked God for something that he didn’t give you? You asked over and over, but God’s answer was always no. Why? There was not a single reason why you shouldn’t have had it, was there? There wasn’t anything sinful about your request. Why didn’t God give you the desires of your heart?
Go back to the story for a moment. Amy asked for blue eyes; was there anything wrong with that? Of course not. Then why didn’t God give her blue eyes? God had his own reasons, and we can easily guess at what they might be. Perhaps it was because God created Amy with brown eyes and wanted her to stay that way. Perhaps God wanted Amy to learn to accept His will.
So the problem was that Amy’s will was not in line with God’s. From James’ epistle to the church we can gather that this is not a new problem. His words are applicable today. We ask God for all sorts of things, but sometimes we ask out of selfishness. Therefore, when God says no, we might try to get these things our own way (verses 1-2). This causes strife and trouble among those who are supposed to be friends.
It is a problem with our motives. We don’t get what we want because we “ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” If our motives were different, we could avoid the whole mess. We should ask God to change our hearts and give us good motives. Chances are that when we talk to God about it, it becomes clear to us that we’re asking for the wrong things.
So what are we supposed to ask for? Well, again, the heart of the matter lies with our motives. When we prioritize, putting God before anything else, we fall in line with God’s plan, and He will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
Try asking God to re-prioritize your heart. Seek God first. You will find yourself satisfied with God’s will for you, even if sometimes the answer is no.