Unanswered Prayer

by | Dec 25, 2015 | Book of James | 0 comments

James had a nickname. He was known in the ancient world as “camel knees”, a man who had callouses on his knees from the extensive time he spent in prayer. He knew how to pray and how to get answers. So how did he do it? How can we too get our prayers answered?

James argues it this way. “From where does strife and from where do fights come among you?” ┬áThe ancient Greek word usage is quite poignant. The English word “strife” is the Greek word for “polemic”. Polemic is the practice of not just debating but attacking another’s position (beliefs, practices, opinions) for the purpose of tearing down.

The English word for “fight” is the Greek word “machai” or battle. A similar word to battle is the word “macharia”, meaning a short sword or blade. These were used in fights that were up close and personal.

Polemics and pitched battles come from where? He goes on. “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your member?” The word for pleasure is “hedonon” from which we get hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure or self-indulgence. The word for war is “strateuomenonon” from which we get soldier or army.

Polemics, pitched battles, hedonism, soldiering. He is building to his main point. Again he goes on. “You lust and do not have.” The word “lust/desire” can be used both positively or negatively. In this case negatively. It means an intense desire to have and possess something, in this case hedonism. “You murder and burn with jealousy and cannot obtain. You battle and make war”. The language used is almost militaristic in tone.

Now he gets to the heart of the issue. “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, that you might spend or consume it on your pleasures (hedonais).” You either don’t get answers because you don’t ask and when you do ask you don’t receive because you only want to satisfy your hedonism.

So how do all these words fit together: polemic, battles, hedonism, warring, lust, murder, jealousy, asking? The language speaks of pitched argumentative battles that are up close and personal. But up close and personal with whom? What is going on here that causes him to be so blunt?

The next verse gives insight into what James means? “Adulterers, do you not know that the friend of the world is an enemy of God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world proves to be an enemy of God”. Adultery is more than just a sexual act. It is developing unhealthy emotional and spiritual attachments, in this case to the world’s values.

His premise is that the believer enters into a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, much like marriage. Adultery for the believer exists when one is given to the world’s values of hedonism, strife, lust, murder, jealousies which are clearly in conflict with God. Polemic arguments are used when the believer seeks to justify one’s position and ultimately finds oneself fighting against God.

Answers to prayer do not come from allegiance to the world but in God responding to believers who live in covenantal relationship. So how does one get free? How does one get answers to those things that are asked? Stay tuned.



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Please know that I love to speak with my Father and to bring others before Him in prayer. I have this unfailing belief that He both hears and answers the prayers of His children.
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Dave Griggs, MDiv

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