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
A selfish purpose in prayer robs the prayer of its power. Many prayers are selfish.
These prayers could be for things that are legitimate things to ask for. They may even be for things that fall into God’s plan. But, if the motive of the prayer is wrong, the prayer will fall to the ground, powerless. The purpose of prayer is to glorify God. God should be glorified when He answers the prayer.
If we ask for anything for use in our pleasure or for our own personal gratification in one way or another, we should not expect an answer. This explains why many prayers go unanswered.
For example, A husband may pray that his wife would ask Jesus to enter into her life. This is definitely a proper thing to pray for, but what is the motive of the husband for asking for this conversion? If the husband asks because it would be much easier for him to live with a Christian spouse, because it would be easier to talk about his faith with her, it is for a selfish reason.
Why should the husband be praying for his wife? First of all, and above all else, it should be to glorify God. It should be that he cannot bear the though of God being dishonored by his wife not walking with Jesus. It should be that other people would see the power of God that changes his wife when his prayer is answered. This would honor and glorify God as people see the changes in his wife.
Many pray to receive the Holy Spirit for selfish reasons. They pray to receive the Holy spirit so that they may be happy, or so that they would have the power of the Holy Spirit to become good workers for the Kingdom.
Why should we pray for the Holy Spirit? We should pray for the Holy Spirit so that God will be glorified the new beauty that enters our lives and the new power that comes to our service as we are called to carry out the work of the kingdom.
What is your motive when you pray?