Here is another excerpt from Principles of Prayer.
Any time we pray there is always a struggle—a fight, a wrestling match, an argument, a plea. And the struggle—or the wresting, as we shall call it—is in four areas: with the world, with ourselves, with Satan, and with God. For this blog post I will give you just the first area.
Wrestling with the world. The Bible says, “Do not love the world, or the things in the world.” (1 Jn. 2:15). The “world” here is the evil in the world, or that evil system headed by Satan. The “things in the world” are all those things that are designed by Satan to cause us to sin. Hence, Satan has taken the “things in the world” and has brought them to us as temptations. And he has put them in three areas, which are in fact the three avenues of all temptations: (1) The things which temp the flesh, (2) things which tempt the eye, and (3) things which tempt our pride.
Now, the things that temp the flesh, are things the world offers us to pamper the appetite, such as sexual pleasure or food or drink. The Bible calls these things “the lust of the flesh;” or we may call them lust with the flesh (since it is in the subjunctive case, verse 16). Secondly, the things that tempt the eye; they are the things we may seek to gratify the sight, such as riches, houses, and all beautiful things. The Bible calls these things “the lust of the eyes”. Last, the things that tempt our pride are the things we may seek to promote pride in living, such as nice clothing, possessions, our job position, and even our church position. The Bible calls these things “the boastful pride of life” (v. 16).
This evil system of the world places things before our eyes not only that we may lust after those things, but also, to give us an evil standard or model. It tells us what is beautiful. It tells us how to act and how to think. It teaches us in the movies and in the media how to lust and how to be prideful. It teaches us to serve ourselves and to reject God. In fact, it tells us that we ourselves are our own God and that we should do as we wish—to please ourselves.
Accordingly, when we pray, there is always a struggle to bring our mind out of the spirit of the world and in line with the will of God; for we all are still in our sinful flesh, which constantly aims to keep us in friendly terms with the world. But James 4:3 tells us that when we are friendly with the world we are hostile toward God, and we, as a result, end up praying with wrong motives—we pray for things that will satisfy our own pleasures. For that reason, our wrestling must be against the spirit of the world and against the desires to conform to the world (Rom. 12:2). Let us travail in prayer to follow only God’s will and to reject all of the world’s evil teachings.