The Purpose of Prayer
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Why do we pray for certain things? What is the purpose of prayer? Perhaps if we didn't first think about it, if we just said what came to mind, we would say that it is to get things from God.
Then there are some who would tell us that if we name it and claim it and ask for it in Jesus' name, then God must give it to us. But this is nonsense. It distorts the purpose of prayer.
It comes down to our motives in prayer. When James warned, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3), he was saying, "Because of your lust for pleasure, because of your obsession with self, it can even affect your prayer life." If I pray about something and yet my motive is wrong, then my prayer will go unanswered.
Prayer is not getting my will in heaven; prayer is getting God's will on Earth. Prayer is not trying to convince God to do what I want Him to do; prayer is a process that I go through in which I learn the will of God and live accordingly.
Am I suggesting that God will not answer a prayer that is outside of His will? Yes. Does this mean that God will inspire us in what to pray for and that is all we should pray for? In a nutshell, yes. God wants us to get into alignment with Him and start praying for the things that will bring glory to His name. And when we start praying like that, we will start seeing our prayers answered in the affirmative.