James 4:1-4 From whence come wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
About this time in Judea the Jews made many insurrections against the Romans under the pretence of defending their religion and procuring their way of life. Many factions among the Jews also fought violently, massacring and plundering one another. In some provinces, Jews killed many heathens and brought destruction upon themselves. These wars were undertaken through a spirit of covetousness and zeal, trying to convert the heathen and destroy idolatry.
This passage should never be taken by the Christian as an excuse for unanswered prayer. By so doing he automatically classes himself as lustful, murderous, covetous, adulterous, worldly, proud, sinful, and blasphemous. Is it any wonder that God does not answer the prayers of such people? No man can ask amiss if he is in Christ and asks according to the promises (John 15:7; Heb. 11:6; Jas. 1:5-8). The reason Christian prayers are not answered is because of their unbelief.
For a Christian to get answers to prayers, we must be free from the cares of the world (Mat. 13:22; Lk. 21:34-36); not gain the world at the expense of our souls (Mat. 16:26); not offend others as the world does (Mat. 18:7); not be of the world – partake of it and be like the world (John 15:19; 17:14, 16); not love our lives in the world (John 12:25); be delivered from the world (Gal. 1:4); be crucified to the world (Gal. 6:14); shine as a light in the world, no darkness in us (Php. 2:15); deny worldly lusts; live godly in it (Tit. 2:12); be unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27); not be friends with the world (Jas. 4:4); escape the pollution and corruption of the world (2Pet. 1:4; 2:20); not love the world, neither the things that are in the world (1Jn. 2:15-17); be like Christ in the world (1Jn. 4:17); overcome the world (1Jn. 5:4-5); be not conformed to it (Rom. 12:2); and be dead to its ways (Col. 2:20).