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You Desire and Do Not Have: James 4:2-3

You Desire and Do Not Have

James 4:2-3 Lexham English Bible

2 You desire and do not have; you murder and are filled with envy, and are not able to obtain; you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, in order that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Is every desire that exist within us good? The answer is no. When we are praying and seeking the Lord, we must make sure what we are asking is in accordance with His will. We will either be motivated and driven by sinful desire, or we will be led by The Holy Spirit. As Holy Spirit leads us, we are transformed from the inside out. Here James writes that we desire and do not have. But we must look at what follows. He says you murder and are filled with envy, and are not able to obtain; you fight and quarrel. All the things that James list here are manifestations of the sinful nature. Murder, envy, fighting, and quarreling are not a manifestation of the character and nature of Christ. Those James was writing to were falling short and by bringing forth the wisdom of God, if applied would bring course correction.

God has called us to pray. Will God answer prayer? The answer is yes. I have personally experience countless answers to prayer. But God shows us in His word how important it is that we are led by Holy Spirit. Every day either we will be led by Holy Spirit, or we will be led by the sinful, selfish desires within us that marked the nature of Adam after eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Here we see that James says you have not because you ask not. Asking requires faith. The exercise of faith based on the word of God releases the power of God into the earth. Faith is trust. Biblical faith is trust in the word of God regardless of what we see, hear, feel, or even think. Everything in our mind and heart maybe telling us what we are facing is an impossible situation, but if viewed through the eyes of God and the word of God, we see that nothing is impossible to Him who believes.

The phrase bad motives in the Greek is kakōs and it means badly (phys. or mor.):—amiss, diseased, evil, grievously, miserably, sick, sore. When we ask with bad motives we are not led by Holy Spirit. When we ask with bad, diseased, evil, or miserable motives we are being led and influence by our sinful nature. The greatest way to crucify the sinful nature is to abide in Christ daily. God knows how important our daily connection is with Him in His word and in His presence. Often the devil will try to make us so busy that we become disconnected and, in the process, as we fail to abide, we fail to live out the freedom and victory we have in Christ.

We see that James points out that prayers are not answered when asked with wrong motives because the wrong motives are driven and influenced by a desire to fulfill sinful pleasures. When we come to God in prayer it is important to examine the motivations behind our prayers. Why am I praying what I am praying? Am I praying what I am praying to advance God’s kingdom, see His will accomplish, see His name glorified, see His will done? Or am I praying because selfishly I simply view God as a genie who is at my beacon call and if he doesn’t give me what I want, I will throw a fit until he does? Sadly, there are some in the body of Christ today that view prayer as the later.

But if we desire to see prayer answered, it must be according to the will of God. The chief aim of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him. When we develop a deep and intimate prayer life we will not only see God glorified in all we do, we will come to enjoy and love His presence. Spending time in His presence will become our obsession and priority. It is when this becomes a reality in the life of believer that answered prayer will become a regular occurrence. As we mature in prayer, God will reveal the deep things of His heart that He desires to use us in to accomplish His purposes. He desires to share His heart, but we must be willing to crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires and seek Him with all our heart alone.


Father search my heart. Remove any desires within me that do not glorify you or honor your word. Father may the desires within me align with your will and purpose. Father I desire to see prayers answered and I know they must be prayed in accordance with your will. Jesus thank you for your shed blood that allows me to drawn near without fear. Jesus thank you that every battle is placed in your hands. Holy Spirit lead and guide me this day. Teach me to pray. Help me to understand your heart and your will. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!

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