Why bother to pray... when we don't get the things we ask for?
Why bother to pray... if God is in control of all things and is going to do what he wants anyway, whether we pray or not?
Well, it is true that God rules his creation absolutely, allowing and controlling everything by his will and strength. Nothing is too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:27). Nothing escapes his notice (Matthew 10:29). Everything works according to his perfect will and plan (Ephesians 1:11). He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and in the midst of everything that is going on he makes sure all things work together for his glory and for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
But instead of this killing our motivation to pray, it should be the main reason for us to pray. How come?
Because it is part of God's design that he is moved to act when we pray according to his will. In other words, when we work out from his revealed will in the Bible what he wants and has planned to do, and then ask him to do it, he is pleased to act on those specific requests.
The child of God, whose sin has been forgiven by Jesus, can approach God our Father with great confidence. He tells us we "receive from him anything we ask because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:22). We’re told that "the prayer of a person whose thinking and living is in line with God is powerful and effective." (James 5:16).
So, first we ought to admit that if there is any problem or fault here, it lies in us, not God.
Second, we should work out how to bring our lives, and thinking, and prayer requests in line with what God wants to happen. When I want what he wants then we'll see prayers powerfully answered. He involves us in what he is doing and shows us what he is doing.
Third, therefore, we should just get on with praying, not least because when we pray as God wants and he acts on those prayers, we see him displaying his glorious power and goodness. That is a cause of great joy in us, and even greater praise to him. Why rob ourselves of such joy and God of his glory?
To opt out of praying is not only disobedient, it is a sure fire way of missing out on the thrill and excitement of being partners with God in all he is doing. It's a sure fire way of making our Christian faith dull, flat-line and frustrating.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4).