Praying Amiss
James 4:1-3
From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?…

1. We pray amiss when our ends and aims are not right in prayer. The end is a main circumstance in every action, the purest offspring of the soul.

2. Our ends and aims are wrong in prayer when we ask blessings for the use and encouragement of our lusts. Men sin with reference to the aim of prayer several ways.

(1) When the end is grossly carnal and sinful. Some seek God for their sins, and would engage the Divine blessing upon a revengeful and carnal enterprise; as the thief kindleth his torch that he might steal by at the lamps of the altar.

(2) When men privily seek to gratify their lusts, men look upon God as some great power that must serve their carnal turns; as he came to Christ, "Master, speak to my brother to divide the inheritance" (Luke 12:13). We would have somewhat from God to give to lust; health and long life, that we may live pleasantly; wealth, that we may "fare deliciously every day"; estates, that we raise up our name and family; victory and success, to excuse ourselves from glorifying God by suffering, or to wreak our malice upon the enemies; Church deliverances, out of a spirit of wrath and revenge.

(3) When we pray for blessings with a selfish aim, and not with serious and actual designs of God's glory, as when a man prayeth for spiritual blessings with a mere respect to his own ease and comfort, as for pardon, heaven, grace, faith, repentance, only that he may escape wrath. This is but a carnal respect to our own good and welfare. God would have us mind our own comfort, but not only. God's glory is the pure spiritual aim.

3. Prayers framed out of a carnal intention are usually successless. God never undertook to satisfy fleshly desires. He will own no other voice in prayer but that of His own Spirit (Romans 8:27).

(T. Manton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

WEB: Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don't they come from your pleasures that war in your members?

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