"...You do not have, because you do not ask." James 4:2 ESV
Very often we spit out the above scripture to another person or even to ourselves in times of need and/or want then we go off and pray. Then when we don't receive what we asked for, we get mad, or offended maybe even. I share this with you because I've been there.
More times than I'd like to admit, I've been upset because I didn't receive what I asked God for. When I say upset, I'm talking like questioning God's existence then coming to my senses by saying something like, "Okay God, I know You're real, sorry for doubting You but why didn't I get what I prayed for? Is there something better You want for me? What is it?" I allow my frustration to further push me to revamping my prayer by only adding, "...I mean if it's Your will Father." Of course when things still don't go my way, I have another conversation with God saying, "Lord, Your word says that I have not because I ask not! Well I asked and You still haven't given it to me! Why does everyone else get what they ask for and even stuff they haven't asked for? What do You want from me?" Finally, I gave up and started planning a pity party.
Now let me tell you, I'd never read that scripture for myself, I just believed what I'd heard. One day I finally read it for myself and decided to read what also came before and after it. OH BOY! Just before in the end of chapter 3 the bible talks about being wise with wisdom from above, not having bitterness and selfish ambition in your heart, for if you do there will be disorder, and it tells how peace is sown. Well going into chapter 4 it says that it is our own selfish desires which cause quarrels and fights among you and you murder and covet to get what it is that you desire and you don't have it because you don't ask, but here it comes, the meat of it, (my opinion), verse 3, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." Ah-ha, there it is, it's because of my own selfish desires that I do not get what I ask for.
Thinking about it, majority of my requests are selfish, (I'm not boasting about this like it's okay, yet rather exposing myself for spiritual growth), and I expect what I want when I want it, and how I want it. Sometimes the things I ask for are just to make me feel better...again just selfish. Verse 4 goes on to say, "You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend makes himself an enemy of God?" Hmmmm, so now that I have the whole story, what will I do with it?
Okay, so my main point of writing this was to say that a lot of times we take just a portion of scripture and run with it. We try to make it applicable to what we feel, need, or want, but not realizing that there's more to it. My lesson learned is to read the before and after.