In recent conversations with 'spiritual' people of good will, they have mentioned praying for certain outcomes in relationships and life circumstances. Prayer has been aimed at finding the right person, seeking meaning in possible 'signs' from God, and asking God for everyday temporal 'favors.' When confronted with my opinion about their feeling angry at God for not being more clear to them, and in not delivering an immediate answer to their prayer, all I could think of were all the people, in union with the suffering Christ, who prayed for deliverance from terminal illness and catastrophes of various sorts, and all the outcomes which seemed, on the surface to be unanswered prayer.
For no doubt, God intervenes (at unexpected times) for miracles; yet, God's real business with the human person is winning hearts and minds in Love.
The 'poof' magic God who responds to our prayer requests, immediately, and positively, is not the God of Love, but a giant UPS factory in the sky. The God of Love suffered accusations, mockery, physical abuse, flagellation, and Crucifixion, so that He could save us from the many consequences of the many things we wish (and pray) for everyday. Prayer may, or may not, bring us our perfect soul mate. It may, or may not, get us that perfect job or that escape from calamity. But, most certainly, what it will get us, especially if we are persistent, is closeness with the God who is Love.
For prayer changes us for the better, even within the storms the world captures us within.
Praying for almost anything with good intent is not bad in itself. But prayer, if practiced long enough, will lead us to the bittersweet reality of Gethsemane. For suffering, and obstacles, and unexpected curve balls, will most certainly come our way. If they haven't, then you most certainly haven't been on this earth very long my friend. That girlfriend that some pray for may not be right around the corner. But peace from God while suffering the single life through a prayerful relationship will bear both self-knowledge and knowledge of God's abundant grace in chastity and obedience--if faith and patience meet sufficient time. For God does not manipulate the physical Universe, nor does He mess with people's free will.
Therefore, rocky roads can only be overcome through personal transformation in prayerful union with the God of abundant grace.
And this is where the Cross comes in. The suffering Jesus is not the God of the quick fix! True happiness is not usually tied with immediate gratification. While Crosses perfect, fast food pleasure seeking only leads to fat, spoiled and unhappy children of the world. So, next time the dark clouds of life hover over our landscape, it is best we pray for God's mysterious super-ability to bring good out of every evil.
But we must give Him the time to do it. For eternity works on a different time system; a time system which never disappoints if only we believe, hope, and seek His Love.