There are some people for whom prayer has been a disappointment. They say they can't believe God because they once tried prayer and "it didn't work." Fortunately, our prayer lives can move through this stage of prayer to a more adult response.
In childhood, Johnny believes everything his mother tells him about prayer. She says, "God will always be there for you," and he thinks, "Great, I'll always have what I want."
Then mother gets sick and Johnny prays, "God heal my mother," but mother dies.
At this point, Johnny has a couple of options. He can enter a rebellious adolescent stage and think, "God didn't heal my mother, so prayer doesn't work."
A second option would be for Johnny to say, "What did mother mean when she said, 'God would always be there for me'? Maybe she meant God would be there for me in my suffering." Johnny will regain the joy of believing by surrendering his ideas of how God should answer his prayers.
My friend said her father-in-law went to the hospital and her mother-in-law asked her to pray that he wouldn't have to have surgery. "Frankly, I wasn't comfortable with her request. I prefer to pray for God's will in a situation rather than for what I think is best." Her adult response says to God, "I trust You to choose what is best, and I accept Your choice because I know You'll cause all things to work together for good for me because I love You."
Dear Father, teach us to pray in ways that always express faith in Your goodness.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" (Ephesians 3:20).