This whole letter would have been hard for the early believers to read and try to accept and adapt to live by. There is not much encouragement here for the persecuted early Church, unlike Paul's letters. These verses continue in the same vein, but if we could turn what James writes here on its head to say instead, ''Ask God for what you want and make sure your motives are right before you do so'' that appears to me to be the positive from James' negative polemic! We pray in the prayer Jesus gave to His disciples, 'May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven' and all our prayer requests should be using that as a principle. When we pray for someone's healing who is ill, when we ask God about a job we or someone we know is going for, when we ask about a family situation or relationship breakdown, when we pray for our country's political or social or ethical situation, when we come before God about the world, we ask with that in mind. God works through many difficult situations and there are many people who have come to me with a particular issue whom I am soon aware that God is working to move them forward, to draw them close to Him, to bring them on their knees in acceptance and adoration through what they suffer than if there was instant healing or if their particular prayer was answered. We cannot then pray that the situation is instantly taken away if we can perceive that God is doing so much through it! That doesn't necessarily make suffering any less painful and frustrating, but it does bring meaning to the suffering. God is at work in you, my friend, to will and to do of His good pleasure!
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