James 4:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 4:3, NIV: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

James 4:3, ESV: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."

James 4:3, KJV: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

James 4:3, NASB: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend what you request on your pleasures."

James 4:3, NLT: "And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong--you want only what will give you pleasure."

James 4:3, CSB: "You ask and don't receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures."

What does James 4:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous two verses, James scolded his Christian readers for living according to the destructive wisdom of the world. They are allowing themselves to be driven by envy and ambition. This does not reflect a trust in God to provide all they needed and much more. As a result, their lives are consumed with fights and quarrels to get what they want.

James identified their root problem: They didn't even ask God for what they wanted. They believed in God, but they didn't trust Him to provide for them. And they really didn't trust that if He would say no, that would be the best for them.

Here in this verse, James reveals that when they did ask God for what they wanted, they were simply trying to manipulate Him. Their prayers were not really requests, they were an effort to make God serve their selfish desires. They weren't engaging in trust in the Father who loved them and wanted to provide what was truly best for them. Instead, they were trying to plug God into their worldly approach to get what they wanted.

The God who loves us won't allow Himself to be used to serve envy and ambition. He wants us to bring our requests to Him with a spirit of humility and trust. He wants us to trust Him, allowing Him to give to us the good He has for us as a gift and in His perfect time.