"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." James 1:5-7
It's all about faith.
Why pray at all if you don't have the faith to bring it to pass? Almost every scripture accompanying the issue of prayer clearly deals with the necessity for the believer to possess and operate in faith. The reason that it is so important is, that you cannot bring to pass what you do not believe you can, and you can't believe for something that you don't exercise faith in. A good rule of thumb would be; believe until you receive, operating in faith, without any doubt.
Without any doubt? You've got to be kidding. Let's talk about this for a minute. I know you will have doubt. I have doubt. Everyone has doubt. But it's when the seed of doubt takes root that faith is negated. To have doubt is natural. To let doubt overwhelm you is not. Faith can overcome doubt, but your faith has to be active for that to happen.
Active faith is not just when you trust in God when the bottom falls out.
It's not when you go two months without even reading your Bible.
It's not when you have been going to church for five years and haven't offered to help with a ministry.
It's not when you pray without expectation.
It's not when you know to do right, but choose to do wrong.
Active faith demands daily recognition and communication with God. Nothing less will do.