I have prayed for things in the past and did not get them. Why didn’t God respond?
We often pray for things we want, but may not need. In fact, what we want may actually interfere with our receiving what we truly need. God is attentive to our need, even if we ourselves might remain unaware of them, and responds even if we ourselves fail to ask: “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you ; therefore He will rise up to show mercy to you” (Is 30:18). It is not as if prayer initiates God’s concern for us. Prayer rather prepares us to receive good things from God.
Every prayer of petition is an occasion to gain the wisdom to discern our true needs and to grow in prudence regarding our wants. Prayer is not a contract with God in which we specify what we want and stipulate how much we are willing to pray or pay in order to get it. Rather, prayer is a covenant to which God has called us and through which the Creator gives us all we need as creatures. In prayer we put our needs and our wants before a loving God who always responds in ways that ultimately deepen the relationship. Prayer gradually tutors us in our needs and slowly stretches our imaginations to consider “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”(1Cor 2:9)
Source: Joseph T. Kelley