It couldn’t be as simple as that, could it?
James paints a picture of squabbling humanity, desperately at odds with itself, a cauldron of boiling wants and wishes, and then quietly observes that it is precisely this attitude that prevents us from receiving from God.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 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. 3 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.
When you ask, you don’t receive because you’re asking with wrong motives. What kind of father would give their child whatever they demanded without considering the effect it had on them? Answer: a bad one.
At the same time, it’s ok to ask! James expects us to. He expects us to understand that God is generous and kind –maybe even indulgent!
But God doesn’t spoil us. You do not have because you do not ask God.
That’s point one: bring your life into line with God’s family. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
That’s point two: Once you’ve owned his parenthood, you participate in his parenting!
And no one gives a chainsaw to a four-year old.
Father God, Help me to clean up my motives and to be really honest about what’s going on inside of me. Once I accept you as Father, I also accept your discipline and wisdom for the way I live.