One’s relationship with God can greatly be affected because of lack of answered prayers. Many, many prayers are not answered. But, the Bible says “ask and you shall receive.” Prayer has to be more complicated than simply asking God to make something happen. God can’t just disrespect freedom but controlling the world as God wants. God can’t make one be a better parent if they have no desire to change. God can’t answer the prayer for both people asking for the same job. We may have to trust a loving God answers how we would if we knew everything God knows.
A loving God surely isn’t controlling, so the Bible may not actually reveal that we simply need to pray to get what we want. But, Mt 7:7 says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The passage says if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always give good gifts when asked. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for any request. Others passages when read in context reveal God seeks to empower but not control or overpower others against their will. Paul expects followers would face persecution for their beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12), thus many prayers today would go unanswered.
We often overlook the most important reason for praying which is relational. God already knows what we think or need. Talking simply connects us to our Creator so we may become more the people we desire to be. We tell our children to associate with the right people so to make wiser choices. If our entire prayer life was only asking God to help us love others as we want to be loved, that would be enough reason to pray. Prayer is more talking to gain support than manipulating for gain. God is always available to talk about anything on our heart but we might best leave the running of the universe up to a loving God who has the interest of all in mind.
I may communicate with my wife or friends about a decision I am making. I am not asking them to make the decision for me but it helps to talk it out loud and get their perspective. We can get God’s perspective often by listening to ourselves and others or reading the Bible. God wants us to feel free to make amoral decisions based on current desires and future aspirations. We often share with friends our circumstances as a way to lighten our burdens. Friends or God can’t magically make things better but it is better to go through things with someone than be all alone.
Prayer can be an excuse to not take actions which is the most common way that God answers prayers to not violate the freedom of others. Rather than praying your friend’s spouse stop drinking which is harming his family, you might say something to them. When you know two friends are in conflict, you might best speak to one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. Rather than praying to God to help the less fortunate, we can do something. We can pray for others but I am convinced God is already doing all they can. Are we?
Don’t allow misunderstandings of God to lead to frustrations and withdrawal from God. I view praying as simply talking to God which can be informal if you prefer. I talk to God brief times during the day when I am not preoccupied with a task at hand. I let my thoughts drift toward conversing with God as often as possible. Just like in human relationships, we can only feel more intimate with our partner when we find a way to spend more time spending time with them. When suffering I ask for relief but I ask God to stay close to me if intervening is not possible all things considered. I never pray for suffering but I ask how suffering can teach me to more be the person deep down I desire to be.