James 4:3 diagnoses one of the most insidious problems which always undermines, and often devastates our prayer lives. The problem we’re told, is a kind of selfish praying that eventually reshapes our prayer lists, turning our communication with God into little more than a personal “wish list” aimed at a less painful and a more enjoyable existence.
As James boldly warns, it is that kind of praying which God will purposefully choose to ignore. Such requests are a reflection of a kind of immature Christianity, which wrongly sees life’s goal as happiness and not holiness, amusement and not ministry. God loves to answer our prayers, but he takes no pleasure in selfishness and greed. That is why God was so complimentary of Solomon, who, when told to ask for whatever he wanted, passed on asking for riches or fame, but instead chose to ask for wisdom so that he might effectively serve God’s people (1Kgs.3:1-15). God quickly responded, giving him not only what he asked for, but pouring out an abundance of blessings that would also bring Solomon happiness and joy.
So guard your prayer list from being overrun by selfish desires. Be sure to ask him for those things which will bring God glory and will make your life more useful for his cause.