After a life altering catastrophe has occurred in your life, a problem that you prayed about and it seems God did not hear you, how do you continue to pray? After the death of a loved one, after you watched their health deteriorate, after you spent countless hours praying for them, how do you pray? If God heard your prayers why didn't he answer them? Whenever you need answers about God or life, you always start in the Bible.
Will Praying Stop Bad Things From Happening?
Let's start by looking at Daniel. Daniel loved God, he spent his time studying the word. Read Daniel 9:2, we see that Daniel was studying the scriptures. He was also a man of prayer. He prayed 3 times a day every day (Daniel 6:1). Lastly Daniel refused to eat food that may make him "unclean". Daniel is a picture of what we need to be and how we should act as Christians. Despite all of this, hard times hit. The government came after him and sentenced him to death. Not even a quick painless death, but a rather brutal and painful death. He was sent to the den of lions (Dan. 6:16).
That's one instance, let's look at another. Read Luke 22:39-44. Jesus, the son of God, prayed. He prayed and asked God to change His mind, to find another way to redeem the souls of man. Find another sacrifice to pay for the sins that Jesus himself did not commit. We know that God did not answer this prayer with a "yes". Jesus Christ went to the cross after being brutally beaten and hurt. God allowed the death of His own son, it was the will and plan of God despite Christ's prayer. The nature of prayer is revealed in Christ's prayer. Jesus made his request known to God but He prayed that God's will be done.
If God's Answers With A "No", How Will I Get Through?
What do these accounts have in common? They asked God to do one thing, but God did another. Why? Did God not listen to them? Did God ignore His own Son? Not at all. Philippians 4:6 says that we are to bring our prayers and petitions to God. What we tend to forget is that God will not conform to our will but it is us who need to conform to His will. Go back and reread Luke 22. Jesus said "...not my will but yours..." In other words, He wanted God's will more than His will.
So what's the point of praying?
God's going to do what He wants anyway, so why pray? Reread both stories, the ending of these accounts is this, God did not change His will or plan, but he sent angels to help those who prayed. God's actions show us that while you will suffer, it is part of my plan and God will provide help through the suffering.
This may not end your sadness or you may still not understand why God's plan included the pain that you are going through but hopefully this will help you see that prayers usually do not alter the will of God, they do bring help while you go through it.