Have you ever prayed for something and gotten something else? I have. We all have. But we usually don’t recognize it as the operation of God. We think God said no, or is not responding. Some people might lead you to believe that those are seasons in which God is trying to get you to persist. Maybe. Maybe not.
In Mark 2:1-5 is a remarkable story to illustrate this point. Four men brought their crippled friend to Jesus to be healed. Because of the crowd they had to climb the roof, open a hole there, and let the man down on ropes in front of Jesus. Jesus said to the man, Son your sins are forgiven” (v.5).
These four friends were asking Jesus to heal the mans physical infirmity, but Jesus forgave the mans sins. They asked for one thing, and Jesus gave another! Why? Jesus knew the mans greatest need - he needed forgivness more than he needed healing. Jesus wanted to give the man eternal life so he could inherit everything! The man was later healed, but only after the highest priority was first addressed.
We pray asking God for one thing and He sometimes delivers another. His perspective is bigger than ours, and He knows what we really have need of - even when we think we know best. He may want to accomplish another thing in you first before He answers what you are currently asking for.
Our problem is that we pray about something but never relate anything that happens as being connected to our prayers. We get discouraged believing it's not going to work out. Here's what you should do - after you pray about something turn on your spiritual concentration and anticipate the activity of God in response to your prayers. It may or may not be what you were asking for, but put up your spiritual antenna and listen. Look for God-activity. When you pray, God responds.
Expect God to answer your prayers. But stick around for the answer. His timing and response is always right and best.