Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Ask, and it will be given you, says Jesus, encouraging us to ask our Heavenly Father for the things we want much as we would ask our earthly fathers. It is not the only time Jesus has told us to ask with confidence. Elsewhere he has said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).
However, as any child will know, not every request is granted. When they ask a parent for bread or fish, they will get it. But many times, a request is denied, either because it may not be the right time, or it may not be good for the child, or the motive may be wrong. As a simple example, consider a request for pocket money. A child of five has no need of it, his parents will get him what he needs. When he gets to be older a judicious amount might be a good thing. However, if he starts doing drugs, giving him money might be a bad thing.
It is the same with God. James writes: “You desire but do not have ... 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” (James 4:2-3). In this we get a clue on how to get our prayers answered. Ensure the motives are right. If the motivation is to do the will of God - which is to be a better person in his sight, or to grow his kingdom, then we have a very good chance of having our prayers answered speedily.
In his first letter John writes: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything *according to his will*, he hears us” (1 John 5:14) So, how do we know what’s in God’s will. Paul has the answer to this question. In his letter to the Romans he writes:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). When we start changing the way we think from the ways of this world to the ways of God, then we will begin to understand how God thinks and, consequently, what his will is. Then ask and you *will* receive.
May the Spirit be with you.