"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) To ask with pure motive is to realize you must let go of your self; your wisdom, your reasoning, your comfort; your rights to harbor the self serving attitudes and behaviors, and in contrast to your humanity, fully embrace the convictions of the Holy Spirit as the guidance toward your new life in Christ, which is your reasonable service to Him who has bought you for Himself.
When Jesus saw a man lying lame and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:2-9) This question, seemingly rhetorical, must be answered. Within their selfishness and self pity, many truly do not want to be well because in the depths of their understanding, they realize that to be well is to release the very affliction that affords them the attention of others and a very convenient reason to remain unaccountable.
"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." (Luke 9:24) This speaks of the life that is eternal...because life that finds its fulfillment here and now is only temporary and will completely pass away with no further trace of it.
"You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4) Yet Jesus prayed that the Father not take us out of this world, but rather, that He deliver us from the evil one. As you journey through your life, you are either conformed to the world or you call on God to exhibit the new life of Christ in you as you are passing through. You ask because you truly desire to be renewed as a child of God at the expense of yourself.
This is the abundant life promised us, yet we fail to receive it because we do not ask purely for the the things of God and His kingdom, but for ourselves and our kingdom. For this reason, the church can become a gathering place for weekly acquaintances to feel good in hearing about God, but remain resistant to the call on their lives that the word of God clearly communicates. Among themselves, accountability is rarely exercised, and the power of God in their lives rarely asked for.
"So I say to you: 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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)
"This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away."
(1 Corinthians 7:29-31)