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I recently went to a local prayer retreat where I was able to share with many other people the power of prayer.  At this event we were told a story of a man who went to India to help with a Brethren missionary pastor, Pastor Kumar.  On a weeknight prayer meeting, the electricity went out just as everyone was gathering.  The room was full but very dark.  Many prayers were made expressing that the darkness does not effect their love for God.  But as Pastor Kumar began to pray, he simply said, “Lord, you are light.  And we ask you to turn on our lights.”  In that moment the lights returned to the room.  This man stated that it was one of the most powerful prayers he had ever heard, and yet it was such a simple request.  Pastor Kumar simply thanked God for returning the lights and then moved on.

But we can see that prayer can be something that as we grow, it becomes simpler and less forced or ritual.

So when we pray we are challenge our motives.  So we see many different parables given by Jesus that a part of our prayer life is to ask for outcomes.  But interwoven in that is to make sure our motives are in line with God’s.  James in this passage is talking about the unbridled desires inside of us.  And that they can lead to the extremes of quarrels, fights, and even killing.  Instead we are to live in the relationship and motives of God, but that also is to lead us to asking for outcomes based on that relationship.  What is God’s will?  What does that look like?  How can we trust Him for an outcome?

So in he discusses prayers asked with wrong motives.  This passage leads us to believe that the people James was talking to was trying to justify their own desires and somehow get God’s blessing on their own pleasures.   Why don’t we give children candy all day without anything else to eat?  Maybe as parents we know better, and that there are other things that are better for us.  Can we not think about our relationship with our Heavenly Father the same way?  Maybe He is holding back something we want with a better outcome.  Maybe we don’t know better in some of these things that we ask for.

So as James moves forward, he is harsher with his words for those who become completely disconnected with God’s motives.  That those people who align themselves with the world’s motives is an adulterous relationship apart from God.  You are cheating on God’s motives to somehow pursue some worldly desire.  And even more, the more you align with the world, the more of an enemy you are to God.

So our prayer lives need to reflect the simplicity of our alignment with God.  He wants me to have his peace. If I want to live in , I have to live in .  What if we only pray out of frustration?  God wants us to bring our frustrations to him, but at the same time he doesn’t just want our relationship to be only based on our frustrations.  But we are then to allow God to shape us in His truth to bring us out of our frustration into His peace.

God’s word is important to our relationship.  This can be helped by praying over an open Bible.  Allow God to speak to you through His Word and reciprocate with simple prayers.

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (ESV)

4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (ESV)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (ESV)

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (ESV)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (ESV)