The great mystery of prayer it not a true mystery at all. One definition for mystery is “something not understood or beyond understanding.” While it may seem that our prayers fall on deaf ears or bounce off the ceiling, that is never the case. There are no tricks to having prayers answered. We don't have to bow our heads and close our eyes in order to touch the heart of God. Sometimes we feel the need to be on our knees or even lying prostrate as a sign of helplessness and/or submission to the Lord. The truth is that there is only one thing God takes notice of when we call out to Him, the condition of our hearts.
The first three verses of James chapter four explains this for us. “1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” The recipients of this letter were Jews who had become Christians. James became a leader in the church in Jerusalem soon after trusting in Jesus, his half brother. Perhaps because of his leadership position or that position was awarded him as a result of his beautiful humility. He calls himself simply a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
James wrote this letter, not for the purpose of rebuke as we might think, but rather to encourage the believers. There were quarrels among them that James suggests that they find the source of. They discovered that all the trouble stemmed from their own selfish desires. Each of them wanted what would please themselves without respect for their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Next we will see the consequences of selfishness and other matters of the heart in regards to prayer.