As two men walked along the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem, they were approached by a strange man who asked them what they were talking about. The men responded with a brief description of Jesus and his crucifixion and then said: But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened (Luke 24:21). Jesus was supposed to be raised up on the third day (Luke 9:22) and the men were implying: It is time for the resurrection; where is he? Perhaps they were waiting for the Heavens to open, for bolts of lightning or claps of thunder. But the resurrected Jesus was standing right next to them.
The same thing happens when we pray. We want a dramatic, obvious and instantaneous response. God always responds but seldom with drama. We always get hold of God but we may not get the precise response envisioned. Sometimes, His response could be right next to us.
God always responds. Prayer always makes a difference. But the difference is not always dramatic and obvious because prayer does not cancel or suspend the particular network of constraints which are bringing some outcome into being. Prayer is the means through which the specific action of God works in and through that network, bringing some succession of events to what will always be a different outcome from what it would otherwise have been. This fact alone should make you come alive with commitment to prayer. But don’t expect bolts of lightning or claps of thunder.