When the opposite of what we prayed for happens.
In those moments when we feel very distant from God.
When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all.
There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and:
They didn’t get the job.
Their mom died of cancer.
Their child was born without a heartbeat.
They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled.
Prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because I got what I wanted and they didn’t.
The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.
As Richard Foster says:
For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer—nothing draws us closer to the heart of God.