Let me just say this and get it out there in the open: God is not a Cosmic Vending Machine. We ought not to enter the throne room of the creator of the universe, hand him a list of grievances and requests, slap on a verbal "in Jesus' name," and expect everything we want, just the way we want it, to come tumbling into our outstretched hands. Prayer didn't work that way for Paul, and there's no reason why we should expect it to work that way for us.
And yet . . .
There is a reason why, for centuries, believers have taken their grievances and requests to God.
For one thing, Jesus told us to: "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." (John 16:24-NIV)
There's that phrase again..."in my name." That's got to mean more than an open-sesame-like password. It must imply that the person is abiding in Christ (John 15:4); in complete union with the purposes and desires of Jesus; in a practical sense, acting - and asking - on behalf of the son of God.
And none of us is perfect at doing that. Case in point, what I alluded to earlier about the Apostle Paul: "I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
And yet . . .
There have been, and continue to be, times when God chooses to withhold his blessings or put his plans on the back burner and waits for his people to ask. It's like he knows you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. He waits until we're thirsty enough, and dependent on him enough and humble enough...he waits for his children to recognize the source of all hope and help, to give up on trying to do things on their own, and to ask.
And then he acts.
Like Max Lucado has written:
Truth is...prayer generally "works" best when it's less about getting God to do what we want and more about getting us in line with what God wants.