Imagine a child asking his mother, "Can I please have an apple, an orange and a cookie?" The mother responds, "Sure! Here is an apple and an orange." The mother's omission of giving the child a cookie is glaringly obvious. There must be some reason why the mother didn't give the child a cookie. Contrast this with the mother saying, "No! I'm not giving you any of those!" or with the mother not responding at all. Clearly in the first scenario she heard the child asking for the cookie, and clearly she wants to give to him as demonstrated by the fact that she gave him an apple and an orange. This begs the question, why didn't the mother give the child a cookie? Why just the other two? We can guess it's because she is saving the cookie as a reward for after the child ate the healthy food first. But the child doesn't know that. The child stares curiously, puzzled by the one request that was denied.
I confess that sometimes I struggle to maintain my faith in the power of my Tefillot. I pour out my heart to Hashem, and know that He's listening. But then why doesn't He answer me? Why does it feel like my requests fall on deaf ears? Doesn't Hashem want to give to me as a parent wants to give a child? I know all the answers in the book. I've read so many books and articles and heard shiurim on Tefillah. "He did answer, He just said no." Well, why is He saying no? Because it's not best, and Hashem only does what's best. Well, if that's the case, then why do we ever daven at all? If you daven to Hashem, then you must believe that your Tefillot cause some sort of change that causes Hashem to "change His mind" so to speak. I believe Hashem set up the world in a way that He wants us to daven before He gives us something because He wants us to build a relationship with Him. That's just one among the many other reasons that our Tefillot have the power to be effective.
Recently I was lucky enough to hear Hashem answer me. In a certain difficult situation everything fell into place in a perfect way. So perfect that it was scary and amazing. Many pieces of craziness came together and it all worked out. I went from feeling panicked to feeling thrilled. One solution pieced together many problems. Hashem's involvement in my life was so obvious that it was though I had been hit on the head by a baseball bat.
Yet some of my Tefillot remain unanswered. And it feels like Hashem saying, "I hear you. I hear your prayers, I hear everything you are saying. And I want to give it to you. There is a reason I'm not giving you this!! A very, very good reason!!" Like the child who asks for an apple, an orange and a cookie and doesn't receive the cookie, I believe Hashem is saving the cookie for a better time. And while it's frustrating because I really do want the cookie, it's comforting to know that Hashem loves me and it's comforting to be the recipient of Hashem's gifts in other areas.