Summary: James teaches that wars and fightings among brethren happen due to neglecting to pray, due to praying for the wrong things, being worldly and becoming guilty of spiritual adultery.
1. Open your bibles to James 4:2b (the 2nd part) thru verse 4.
2. In the words and phrases right ahead of this James refers to “wars and fighting’s” that go on in the lives of individuals and among members in local congregations.
3. James teaches that these personal and congregational struggles are primarily the result of lustful and covetous desires that are often so strong that they motivate us to let our feelings get completely out of control.
4. Some get so far out of control due to their lust and covetousness that they have desires to murder or kill others. 1 John 3:15 tells Christians that such uncontrolled passions classify us, in the sight of God, as being actually murders. We don’t have to physically commit the murder to be considered as a murderer in the eyes of God.
5. Along with teaching Christians the reasons behind such “wars and fighting’s” what else does James say that will help Christians overcome such un-peaceful problems?
I. FIRST, JAMES 4:2 (the last phrase) TEACHES THAT “WARS AND FIGHTING’S” COME BECAUSE CHRISTIANS NEGLECT TO PRAY.
1. Let’s read this last phrase from James 4:2, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask”.
(1) In James 1:5, James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” Notice that God will give wisdom to all – any and everyone liberally – but only if they will ask for it on God’s terms and conditions.
(2) In James 1:17, James refers to God providing every good gift that man should ever need. Let’s read James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
(3) These verses let Christians know that if they are not able to prevent “wars and fighting’s” in their own personal life and in local congregations it is their own fault.
2. Christians can and should pray for the things they need physically and spiritually.
(1) However, it is not going to do them any good to pray for evil desires to be fulfilled.
(2) It may be that they did not pray, because the things they wanted were evil. God sends good gifts, not evil gifts.
(3) Satan will help one to do evil, but God will not.
3. The things men often want the most, do them the least good (or will do them much evil); and that which they need the most, they do not want and will not request.
(1) People with the attitudes and lustful desires and covetousness described by James are usually not going to ask for wisdom, patience, love, or the other spiritual traits.
(2) There are many unanswered prayers because the prayers go un-prayed.
II. SECONDLY, JAMES 4:3 TEACHES THAT MANY PRAYERS GO UN-ANSWERED BECAUSE THE WRONG THINGS ARE PRAYED FOR.
1. Let’s read James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
(1) Selfishness and wrongdoing shut the door of prayer. If a man’s prayers are for the things that will gratify his desires, his prayers are selfish. God will not answer selfish prayers. Selfish prayers are to ask amiss.
(2) Evidently, some Christians recognized this and did not pray.
(3) The correct way to pray is with the attitude of “not my will, but Thy (God’s) will be done” (Matthew 25:39).
2. To ask “amiss” is like asking God for help in winning a fabulous lottery prize! Playing the lottery is sinful; to ask God to help with it is foolish and wrong.
3. “That you may spend it on your pleasures” refers to one praying for the wrong reason and being guilty of having the desire to spend God’s gifts on one’s own pleasures.
(1) The Greek word, Dapanaô (spend), means to completely use up or squander.
(2) This word was used by Jesus to describe the prodigal son’s wasteful squandering of his inheritance. He went so far, that he wound up eating the food that he was feeding the hogs (Luke 15:13).
(3) The pleasures mentioned here are the same kinds as those mentioned in verses 1 &2. “Lusts and covetousness” cause personal and congregational “wars and fighting’s”. These are pleasures that God does not honor.
(4) However, unfaithful Christians and worldly people live for such pleasures. Far too many live for the thrill of the moment. They are continually guilty of trying to fulfill and gratify their fleshly lusts and intentions.