On the afternoon of one of the worst days in recent memory, I heard a TV preacher cheerfully say that if you r prayers aren't being answered, it means you haven't 'filled up your prayer vault' in God's Throne Room, so it'll 'explode like a volcano' and thus gain God's attention. Pray without ceasing, and be focused and diligent, and your prayers will be answered.
I'm trying to think of something snide to say, reflecting my disgust with that kind of smug and ultimately disrespectful attitude, but all I can really say is, What An Idiot.
Forget about me. I'm really bad at prayer. Mind wanders, can't hold my hands together because one's kind of broken.
But think back eleven years, almost to the day. Think about the people photographed jumping from the World Trade Center Towers. Think about their clothes, rippling in the wind. Clothes that they selected only hours before, to look nice.
Not to be their shroud.
You think they didn't pray hard enough to be delivered from their fate? I don't. And I hope with all my heart that God heard their last, desperate prayers and calmed their hearts in their last few seconds of fall. I hope, and believe, that they were His greatest priority. Not to rescue, but to save.
In advanced math, you use functions called 'transforms' to solve some difficult problems...you transform your original problem into an easier one, solve it in the 'transform space', and use the reverse of the transform to get back your result in the real world.
I'd think prayer is like that. God hears every prayer, and answers it in God-space...and transforms it on the way back to us. So that a prayer for a hand, catching us from a physical fall, will become a Heart, embracing us in our spiritual plummet.
I hope so.