You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings. (James 4:3)
But why? God gives us permission to ask for anything. Yet we do not always receive what we ask for, sometimes to our great disappointment. This circumstance should lead to contemplation. The book of James gives us one reason why we may not receive that for which we ask—we do not ask with a right heart, and therefore God’s “no” is justified. Rather than sulking, we must learn.
Think of the relationship between a parent and child. If the parent grants every request the child makes, the child never matures or grows. Children ask for cotton candy until they are sick, but the loving parent will deny the request before that moment comes.
W. H. Auden wrote, “Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.” The evil that resides in our own hearts is not always easy to discern. This is all the more reason to pray. For it is in prayer that we open our hearts to God and create space for the Holy Spirit to bring to our consciousness our need for repentance and a renewed reliance on God’s grace.
Gracious God, teach me to accept humbly those moments when you say no to my request. Amen.