When a Christian prays, three things might happen: He might get what he prays for, he might not get what he prays for, or he might have to wait. Similarly, when a non-religions person hopes for something, three things might happen: He might get what he hopes for, he might not get what he hopes for, or he might have to wait.
To the casual observer, there doesn’t seem to be a difference between them. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the non-religious person, who concludes that faith doesn’t really make a difference. He assumes that life is really just a matter of creating one's own opportunities and a little rolling of the dice. If he gets what he hopes for, it’s good fortune. If he doesn’t get what he hopes for, it’s bad fortune. If he has to wait for what he hopes for, it’s an inconvenience.
The Christian, on the other hand, has a decidedly different response to the three possible answers to his prayers. If he gets what he prays for, it becomes an occasion of praise and thanksgiving as he recognizes, not good fortune, but God’s continued provision in his life. If he doesn’t get what he prays for, rather than become discouraged, he finds contentment in the assurance that God has something better in mind. Finally, if he has to wait for what he prayed for, he enters a period of leaning on and trusting God in the situation, believing that it will be resolved in God’s timing.
So, what difference did prayer make? Did faith provide the believer with more stuff than his non-religious counterpart? Who ends up with more stuff isn’t really the point of prayer, but who ends up with more of God. God doesn’t want the search for more stuff to be our motive for seeking Him. Rather, He wants us to come to Him because we want more of Him!
When we commune with God over the events of our life, we gain rewards that are far greater than any of the stuff people seek. More God means a life filled with more praise, more thanksgiving, more contentment and more faith. The non-religious person places little value on these virtues, so he wrongly concludes that prayer doesn't really make a difference. By contrast, the Christian understands that these are the real treasures in life, the things that make for a truly blessed life, and that it was prayer that made it all possible.
[If] God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need" (Matthew 6:30-33).