C. S. Lewis wrote in his Letters to an American Lady, “Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical. Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they often themselves are quite mistaken as to what their motives are.”
That’s also true in our prayer lives. Sometimes even we don’t realize what our motives are. But you can be sure that God knows our motives all the time. So, what happens if we’re praying for the right thing but for the wrong reason? Let’s see what God’s Word says.
Receive“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:1-3, ESV).
- What are some of the “motives” given in this passage?
- What does it mean to “ask wrongly”?
- The word “passions” can be translated “pleasures.” Can you think of a time when you prayed for something simply to use for your pleasure?
ReflectNobody, as C.S. Lewis observed, has totally pure motives. But what do you do when you discover that your primary motive for praying for something is based on a “wrong motive”? Look at 1 John 1:9 and consider the following questions:
- What does John tell us that a Christian should do with sin in his or her life?
- What is God’s response to this action?
- What do we find in this verse that assures us God will forgive us and purify us from unrighteousness?