Jesus said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father [God] in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!."1
Terry Fitzgerald Sieck shared how she "was in the habit of praying very specifically for what she wanted. She told God in great detail about the kind of job, the kind of husband, the kind of life that she envisioned for herself. And Terry was frequently frustrated. One day, a friend suggested that she try a different tack. Give God a blank sheet of paper, the friend suggested, and let God give you his list for your life.
"Not long afterwards, Terry went back to school—something she hadn't anticipated doing. And she met a wonderful new man whom she eventually married. He didn't fit the criteria of her earlier list, but he was everything she wanted in a husband. When Terry turned her life over to God's will, God provided for her needs in ways she couldn't have imagined."2
There's nothing wrong with asking God for what we would like, but to get prayers answered, they need to be in harmony with God's will. And while "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers" (as the country song puts it), he often does give us the desires of our heart when we pray in harmony with his will.
I think God has a great sense of humor too. For instance, my last car had just under 200,000 miles on it. It was old but still okay for running around town, but I didn't feel safe in driving it long distances anymore. For months I had been looking for a good bargain on a mid-size SUV (not a gas guzzling one) as I carry lots of stuff for our work. I prayed, "God, I don't really need an SUV but it sure would be nice to have one." Within two weeks I found a fabulous bargain on a year-old, low-mileage vehicle. I now own an SUV and have found it a great help in our work.
I think one of my son's "prayers" was answered too. His vehicle was giving him all sorts of problems so I sold him my old car for $1.00—which he borrowed from us to pay for it!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you hear and answer my prayers. Thank you, too, for the times you haven't answered my prayers according to my wishes which, if you had, it may have done me more harm than good. Help me to live and pray in harmony with your will so that I can be sure that you will answer my prayers one way or another. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: See article, "How to Pray Effectively" at:http://tinyurl.com/kb62w.
1. Matthew 7:11 (NIV).
2. Terry Fitzgerald Sieck, found in Stories of God's Abundance for a More Joyful Life (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Publishers, 1999), pp. 196-198.