Submit Yourselves to God
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Another area of great concern for James is the in-fighting that is happening in the early church. It is one thing to have a healthy debate when a church is growing over key issues, but these were outright destructive fights, which led to division and strife in the body, and were a terrible witness to the world. Who would want to be a part of a church that is always fighting about petty arguments?
And at the core of these behaviors is self-centeredness with people wanting what they want, with wrong motives. An argument is usually the result of someone wanting to prove something, or someone who wants something but they can't get it on their terms. It is part of our fleshly or sinful nature, and James is trying to put a curb on this ASAP.
As an antidote to these behaviors, James is asking them to go to God with what they need. Instead of relying on self to manipulate what you want, go to God and He will give you what you really need. And you don't have to fight with God to get it. Another issue was that when they prayed, they also prayed selfishly for their own desires, versus God's will being done for them. These are all signs of spiritual immaturity, and from time to time we can all act this way. A real sign of spiritual maturity is when you don't have to be right all the time. You are okay with not winning an argument, because you realize that God will work it out in His time if you really are right. Not many people are convinced through arguing anyways. They just get madder at the other person, and more resolute to maintain their own position.
But if we pray for others when we are mad at them, and if we pray for God to purify our desires and motives, we can grow in being more Christ-like. You will notice Jesus never really argued with others. For those that disagreed with him, he loved them, and/or moved on not trying to change them. He entrusted them to His Father. If we can learn this I think we will be a better witness in our church, our families, and where we work.