You have not because you ask not.
This statement is found in James 4:2. It’s a loaded statement that should cause us to think: what have we left on the table?
I used to work as a salesman for a communication company. When I was new at the job my trainer would review the sales process with me after each sale to find out where I could have potentially sold something more. The things that I could have sold but didn’t were referred to as “money left on the table”.
In the kingdom of God I think there’s much more that we could gain if we knew to pursue it.
Did you ever think that God gives you what He wants to give you and it’s completely up to Him what that is? You’re not alone if you did. After-all, God knows everything so He knows what you need and what you don’t.
If God knows what we need better than we do, then we should just leave it up to Him to decide what we should get out of life, right?
It would probably be nice if that’s the way things worked with God. It would definitely be simpler. However that isn’t the way things work with God.
Because God is a faith God, and that wouldn’t require any faith from us. Did you know that the Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God? (Hebrews 11:6)
Everything that we can get from God is done by faith.
Take salvation for example. God doesn’t “give” salvation to anybody. He made it available to everyone - but we are the ones that take it. We take it by acting on our faith: by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
If God isn’t making people get saved, then why would we think He would give anything else to us without our will and faith being involved?
Faith is what takes the things that we hope/desire for and brings them into our reality (Hebrews 11:1).
It is true that God has given to each of us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) but it is up to us to take that measure and activate it. We have to harness that faith and use it to get something from God. Whether it is salvation, healing, or a financial need, the process always involves us believing for something from God and then by faith receiving it as ours.
Has anybody ever gotten saved by Jesus against their will? Of course not. Even when Saul was on the road to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him in a bright light, he still had to make the choice to make the confession of faith and believe in Jesus as his savior.
If God gives us what we want based on us using our faith for it, then at some point we must communicate to God what it is that we want. We must ask for it. If we don’t ask for it - we won’t get it. If you don’t ask God to save you - He won’t.
Am I implying that we can get anything we want by asking God for it? No. It has to be in accordance to His will and word. John 15:1-8 gives clear instruction on this matter. You must abide in God and in His word - so that when you ask God for something in faith you have a basis to believe for it.
Salvation is easy, we know it’s God’s will to save us because He said so and most people don’t question that (John 3:16-17). What about other things that God has provided for us? Those things won’t be given to us unless you ask for them.
How will you know to ask for them unless you know they have been provided for you? This is why we need to abide in God’s word - both through anointed preaching/teaching and studying God’s scripture on our own. Then we will know what else has been provided for us and we can ask God for it.
Getting things from God isn’t meant to be a selfish thing, though it could become that way.
It is actually in the context of selfish desires (Jame 4:1-3) that we find the statement “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
Yet that doesn’t mean everything that we ask for is out of selfishness. Did anybody tell you that you were selfish for getting saved? Of course not. On the other hand - I guarantee that if you start asking God for financial prosperity you’ll get a whole bunch of haters that’ll say you’re selfish.
The abundance of scriptures to believe God for financial prosperity make it so clear that it’s His will for us.
Then why do people object to it? There’s a bunch of reasons.
The devil wants you broke - so that you’re ineffective. Try to go to a foreign nation to preach the gospel without any money - you won’t make it out of the airport. If you’re struggling to pay your bills on time, how much effort will you spend sharing the gospel with others? Not nearly as much as if your bills were paid in full.
Another reason people object is that others have abused the message of prosperity out of selfish ambition. Is that a reason to stop preaching it?
If you answered yes to that question, then with the same logic we should stop preaching the gospel of salvation. Here’s why:
Philippians 4:15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.
Apparently in Paul’s day people were preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition. Did that stop Paul from preaching it? Of course not.
Have you ever eaten at a bad restaurant? If not, come to my town and I can take you to plenty of them. Assuming that you have, did you ever try eating at a different restaurant? Or did you say to yourself - all restaurants make bad food and then never go to another.
You went to a different restaurant, perhaps a few - until you found one that you liked. I’ve talked to many different people that went to a church - didn’t like it, or got burned by it and never went to try another one.
It’s the same thing when it comes to doctrine. Maybe you heard somebody preach a message on prosperity or healing and the message was bad - perhaps done with selfish ambition. That doesn’t mean that it’s a throw away - it means find somebody that preaches it right.
There’s too many scriptures about healing, prosperity, and God’s blessing to throw it all away because of some bad preachers.
Are there people out there that ask God for things for their own selfish desires? Yup - that’s why James rebuked them:
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Should we stop asking God for things because somebody else asked with wrong motives? Nope. We should just check our heart - our motives/intentions - make sure they are pure and then keep believing God for His best.
“You do not have because you do not ask” isn’t the only place in the scripture that says we should ask God for things.
Here’s just a few more:
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
John 16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.