Consider for a moment these passages from the Gospels where Jesus offers assurance in no uncertain terms that prayer will be answered...
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall be do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Yet is there anyone who can honestly say that they experience such reliability and consistency of God granting that which they ask for? And if not, then why not? There are too many passages to support the belief and expectation that God will, in fact, answer prayer as promised.
I can think of two possible answers and there certainly may be others. First, it may be that the Gospels and perhaps the book of Acts belong to a different dispensation than the one we are living in now. Just as the Old Testament or Old Covenant is a different dispensation, a dispensation of the law which has been superceded by the New Testament or New Covenant - a dispensation of grace. If this is the case, then the passages above applied specifically to those Jesus spoke to and not to future generations of believers. This would explain why I don't move mountains.
While this may be the case, I'm reluctant to believe it is so as otherwise I'm hard pressed to understand the point of prayer for contemporary believers including Paul and his exhortation and example as found in the epistles (also belonging to the present dispensation). The second possibility is that there is a relationship that exists between the degree of one's spirituality, that is, the degree to which they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and, as a result, the faith they possess, and the reality of God answering their prayers. Interestingly, I believe we are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit through sincere and constant prayer to the Father in a total, selfless desire to be possessed by His Spirit.
If this is so, then I suspect such individuals, rare though they may be, are so in tune with the will of God that the passages above are a reality for them. Less blessed folk simply wouldn't recognize it. But even this thought seems to be contradicted by the first verse quoted above from Matthew 6:6
Of course, if any of our readers have another answer to this question, feel free to respond via the Feedback page.