We’ve all had times when prayer seems to be to no avail. Circumstances reverse, babies die, crops languish, etc., in spite of prayer. What might be going on at such times? There may be something more at stake here than prayers that appear to be unanswered. Two verses help us to see a bigger picture.
Habakkuk 3:17 (NIV): “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” Couple that with Job's famous rejoinder, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15, KJV).
And Hebrews 11:13 (NIV): “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them [note: that implies the answers had to exist somewhere in the spirit realm] and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
We’re told in Scripture that the ancient saint’s beliefs and prayers were credited to them as righteousness. Credit means we will collect it at some point. It is very possible that we'll see some sort of compounded blessings in the Millennium for promises that we unwaveringly stood on here and now. There is a difference between unbelief, a weak faith and a strong faith that includes a confidence that at times there is a Job-style glimpse of some dynamics beyond the prayer that necessitate it not being answered now. Divine restraint is, no doubt, in the prayer mix somehow, for higher ends.
The big test for sure is "Do we believe in His character?" Do we know deep inside that He desires these things for us—and do we believe it, come hell or high water? Do we trust that it is in His nature to bless and bless when we are in covenant with Him? When He loved us unto the point of shedding blood, we must infer that He has certainly given us everything lesser. ("He who did not spare His own son but freely gave Him up for us all, how will He not ALSO, along with Him, freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32, NIV). He eventually gives us all things—but in a package somewhere downstream from shaping our character first. We must believe that, in spite of the bad press the enemy insistently suggests to us and in defiance of our own questions/ our own small and paltry reasonings and "what gives" wanderings. (As the old hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the One I love.”)
‘Tis a big, big, test going on here. No doubt, He examines us continually, to see what is in our hearts, as is indicated all over in the Psalms. Stay the course. We shall believe only and steadily that He is wonderful. This is the gold of the universe—the stuff He is after in us. "All of His promises are YES in Yeshua" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Somehow, in some way, we will see it. 1 John 2:28 says we shall not be ashamed at His coming—neither of the object of our faith, nor of its rewards.