The Reality of James 4:3


The word of God is alive. The written, logos, word has the ability to jump up from the page and slap you, pierce your heart, leave you breathless, render you paralysed and make you stunned. Well at least it does that for me and yet every time something happens, I marvel at how God’s word can affect me. How it can bring illumination and understanding. How one scripture can take on different meanings in different seasons and still not be contradictory. A scripture that you have read many times, at the right moment, has the ability to turn your perspective upside down. How great is our God!

Shortly before this current revelation, I had read the scripture in James and nodded at the truth of it.  Then I moved on. Not knowing that God would bring me right back to that place; to derail a train of thought that was going steadily along its way.

James 4:3 (leading in from vs 2) states: You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.’ (NASB)

Truthfully I cannot say how many times I have said to myself “You do not have because you do not ask” and thus the asking begins. In this particular case, I was asking earnestly; asking every day for God to move. Specifically for God to work in someone’s heart and bring about change. They needed an encounter with Jesus. Their life would be so much better, I reasoned, if they would only surrender and let God have full control. They would be less angry, more pleasant and nicer if only God would touch them. So I asked, fervently and….nothing.

I had made my move. Now it was God’s turn to answer.

While attending a seminar, James 4:3 was used as part of a presentation and at that moment it was as if the Holy Spirit pulled out a megaphone and a highlighter. I heard it and saw it, LOUD and CLEAR. Something like this: BECAUSE YOU ASK WITH THE WRONG MOTIVES!!!!

The presenter then went on to say that God may not change a situation for your growth.  Teaching you to love people in spite of their faults because something in you needs to change. Sound familiar? Speck in their eye vs plank in yours? (Matt 7:4)

It was at that moment that I realised that all my asking had been because the other person’s transformation would have made my life easier. No more butting heads or feeling frustrated. No relying on the fruits of the Spirit. Just ease. I had been asking for my pleasure. Not solely for their benefit.

Wrong motives.

Now, I stop, think and listen before I take something to Father. Ok, sometimes after as well. The requests that are made to Him need to line up with His guidelines.

My 7-year old asked me if God ever says ‘No’. I had to smile because I know He does. All the time. We don’t always ask smart things. We need to examine our hearts before Him knowing that our hearts can deceive us.

As for the person that was the subject of the prayers: I know God’s timing will be perfect in their life, that they will know His unconditional love and that His plan and purpose will bring them to a place of joy, peace and rest in knowing Him.


—–Marisse Cropper—–





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