“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
God will answer no prayer that adds to our honor or assists our temptations. In the first place, God does not answer the prayer of a person who harbors lust in his heart. All answers are dependent upon the plucking out of our hearts the evil, the lust, and the besetting sins.
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18).
The test of knowing whether or not our request is based on lust is very simple. How we handle delays and denials is the clue. Prayers founded on lust demand hasty answers. If the lusting heart does not get the desired thing quickly, it whimpers and cries, swoons and faints—or it breaks out in a spell of murmuring and complaining, finally accusing God of deafness.
“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not" (Isaiah 58:3).
The lustful heart cannot see God's glory in His denials and delays. Yet did God not get more glory by denying Christ's prayer to save His life, if possible, from death? I shudder to think of where we would be today had God not denied that request.
God, in His justice, is obligated to delay or deny our prayers until they are purged of all selfishness and lust.
Could there be one simple reason why most of our prayers are hindered? Could it be a result of our ongoing flirtation with a lust or besetting sin? Have we forgotten that only those with clean hands and pure hearts can set their feet on His holy hill? Only a total forsaking of a pet sin will throw open the gates of heaven and unclog the blessings.
Instead of yielding, we run from counselor to counselor, trying to find help to cope with despair, emptiness, and restlessness. Yet, it is all in vain because sin and lust have not yet been plucked out. Sin is the root of all our problems. Peace comes only when we surrender and forsake all secret sin.