“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3
If we are having conflicts in the church, what is the first thing that we should do about the conflict? We should pray. The focus of the person who does not pray about the conflict is toward self, not toward God. Often when we have conflict, we scheme, we tell our friends our side of the story, we read self-help books of how to deal with difficult people, but we don’t make the conflict a matter of prayer. One reason we fail to pray is because it is hard to pray for someone and be angry with them at the same time. Since we want to justify our anger, I have the right to be angry, we want our anger to make the person pay, so we want let go of that anger so that we can pray for that person. We may even say that I do pray for them. I pray that God will change their mind and they will see things my way. This prayer is the prayer that James is talking about in this scripture. You pray with the wrong motive. You are using God to get what you want. Prayer is not about us using God. It is about God using us. If we are to receive anything from God, we must pray with the right motive.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)