God answered some of my prayers pretty quickly in the past few days, so quickly, that i was surprised. maybe i wasn't really expecting an answer, and the prayers were almost perfunctory. sometimes i forget whom i am praying to.
but the biggest reason why i was surprised, as that too often, prayers don't get answered immmediately. some prayers appear to get shelved, and the results were seen only much later. some never get answered, at least, not in the way that i want it to be answered. looking at the spotty record God has in answering prayers, a cynic can easily ask, then 'how do you know that there is a God at all?" after all, the results look random, and it is the pattern-seeking human who puts God into the picture when possible.
it is a good thing then, that i don't base my faith on how my prayers are answered. granted wishes are proof of a genie in a bottle, not of a sovereign God. As human beings, we look to the supernatural for proof of God, as if God would use magic all the time. even the people in Jesus' time asked him for a sign of his deity. If there were a God, He would part the Red Sea more often than once, He would lift up his beloved disciples so that their feet would not strike a stone, He would smite the blasphemous or nasty in a satisfying manner. at least, that's what we would do if we were God. we would behave like Bruce Almighty :P
but in our New Testament times, God doesn't seem to work this way anymore. It is not that He stopped answering prayers, i come to see that He prefers to respect natural laws and gently direct the course of our lives and circumstances instead, to meet our needs, to comfort and to guide. maybe one day when we look back at the entire picture of our lives or the course of history, we would be astounded by the ingenuity God displays in orchestrating His plans without resorting to magical shortcuts. personally, i think that this would be much more difficult.
still, it is nice to, every now and then, have the satisfaction of a prayer answered very speedily. we all need a little miracle every now and then.