I recently went with a friend to see the movie Evan Almighty- the story of a modern man whom God tells to build an ark. He encounters a great deal of ridicule from his friends and even his family as he outlines the plans for the giant boat and begins to appear more and more like a biblical figure each day.
While I wouldn't recommend the movie for its theological soundness, I do think it had a few good points to consider. In one scene, Evan's wife is in a diner and is very upset. She left Evan and took their sons with her because she believed he was going crazy and was potentially harmful. As she looks lamentably at her plate, the "waiter" stops by her table. Though she doesn't know him, the audience recognizes "God" as he has appeared in the movie.
"God" tells her this: How do you think God answers prayers? If you pray for courage, does God give it to you or make an opportunity for you to be courageous? If you ask for patience, does God grant that or show you a chance to be patient? If you ask for family togetherness...
That, of course, was the catchphrase for her. She had prayed for her family to grow closer together, she just hadn't seen working together on the ark as that heaven-sent opportunity.
Life and faith are not always Hollywood-neat, but I think there is a little bit of sense to this idea. How often have we prayed for this or that and believed our prayer to be unanswered? Admittedly, some of our deepest prayers aren't for things that call for opportunities- we want someone's safe return, healing or other specific action. God hears these prayers and is with us in our cries, our anger and our need.
Prayer is yet another mystery in the life of faith and it can be one that is difficult to maintain Martin Luther says because God has called us to prayer, it is okay to ask God for the strength to pray, to remind God of the difficulty of prayer and even to revisit God's promises to hear our prayers.
May you have strength in your prayers and confidence that you are being heard. May the Spirit open your heart to see when and where God has laid the groundwork for the granting of some of your prayers.