ESV - 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
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I believe the simple answer is will what you are praying for bring glory to God? If your honest answer to this question is yes then you can safely assume your motives are true. For a more detailed answer, I found this, which may further answer your question: Are you praying for the things for which the Bible commands prayer? • our enemies (Matthew 5:44); • for God to send missionaries (Luke 10:2); • that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); • for ministers of the Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); • for government authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3); • for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and • for the healing of fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray with confidence that we are praying according to His will. Are you following the example of godly characters in Scripture? • Paul prayed for the salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1). • David prayed for mercy and forgiveness when he sinned (Psalm 51:1-2). • The early church prayed for boldness to witness (Acts 4:29). These prayers were according to the will of God, and similar prayers today can be as well. As with Paul and the early church, we should always be praying for the salvation of others. For ourselves, we should pray as David prayed, always aware of our sin and bringing it before God before it hinders our relationship with Him and thwarts our prayers. Are you praying with the right motivation? Selfish motives will not be blessed by 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 4:3). • We should also pray, not so our lofty words can be heard and we may be seen by others as “spiritual,” but mostly in private and in secret, so that our heavenly Father will hear in private and reward us openly (Matthew 6:5-6). Are you praying with a spirit of forgiveness toward others (Mark 11:25)? • A spirit of bitterness, anger, revenge or hatred toward others will prevent our hearts from praying in total submission to God. Just as we are told not to give offerings to God while there is conflict between ourselves and another Christian (Matthew 5:23-24), in the same way God does not want the offering of our prayers until we have reconciled with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Are you praying with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6-7)? • We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter how burdened we are by our wants or needs. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has reason to be grateful to God. Are you praying with persistence (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)? • We should persevere in prayer and not quit or be dejected because we have not received an immediate answer. Part of praying in God’s will is believing that, whether His answer is “yes,” “no,” or “wait,” we accept His judgment. Peace in Christ
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