A few months ago my friend was experiencing a crisis situation. I took the matter to prayer, earnestly praying for her to emerge victorious through it all. I very deeply and sincerely prayed with this outcome in mind; after all, it was good thing I was praying for out of love for my neighbor.
Crash! Her victory for which I was praying ended in defeat. She was crushed! Not only that, but I felt awfully let down from a prayer point of view. What happened? Why did God not deliver?
After awhile of pondering my whole approach to prayer in this matter, I realized something--something very essential. God is not a vending machine! So often we think that prayer should work that way: You put in some coins (prayers) and out comes what you want! However, God is not a vending machine; our prayers are part of a trusting RELATIONSHIP with God as our dear Father, who knows and gives us what will certainly bring the greatest peace, joy and love. Needless to say, our prayers are important, and we must always pray and never lose heart; but we must pray as His very dear children in a trusting relationship with Him and according to His all-knowing, all-loving will. This leads me to the second point I considered in my pondering of it all.
When I prayed for my friend, of course I left the outcome to God's will (in the background), but my focus was primarily on what I wanted for her, what I thought was good. My focus should have been on praying for what would bring about the love of God to fulfillment in her situation--what would bring about His glory and honor. Remember, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." Looking back, on a human level I wanted what I thought best for her; on a grace-filled spiritual level I ought to have prayed for God's love and glory to shine through the situation as He sees best (and He sees it all throughout all time) with that as my primary desire. Ah! Purity of intention; seeking only to love God and have Him loved by all and in all things.
Let us always pray; but let us endeavor to pray with less focus on what we think we want and more focus on our relationship with Him, who will give us everything that He, our Father, knows best. Finally, let us pray with the foremost desire for His glory and love to fill our every situation. Love is what we all really desire, and His love is what He will always give to us.