"So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you." (NCV)
What is God saying?
Prayer is an exercise of faith and God honors that faith.
What is God saying to us today?
Some Christian preachers point to this as a proof text that God is like that big Santa Claus in the sky - all we have to do is ask and God will give. But of course that doesn't always happen, as anyone who has been a Christian for more than five minutes will testify. So what does that mean then? Is it our fault? Did we really believe? Did we have enough faith? Or is it God's fault? Is He a liar? Is He not powerful enough? Again, the key to this verse, as with so many verses, is relationship. When we are in a relationship with God, it changes us and our desires so that we're in tune with Him. Would you ask your brother, who is a good cop, to help you rob a bank and expect him to say yes? Of course not. Accordingly, when we put our faith in God and get to know who He is, we will ask Him for things that are in harmony with His nature, and we can be confident that He will say yes.
What is God inviting us to do?
Have you been disappointed by not receiving what you've asked for in prayer? God invites us to get to know Him better, and as our relationship with Him grows so will our satisfaction with our desires.