I came across this quote last night while reading "Jesus the Christ." It made me think how blessed we are to have prayer, that we can talk to our Father in Heaven any time we want. But what happens following prayer is even more amazing to me. Watching miracles unfold in ways that could never be imagined, to see what could be passed off as coincidences if not viewed with an eye of faith, to see hearts soften, loads lightened and stumbling blocks turn into stepping stones, is when the miracle of prayer is really made manifest.
I have also been reading in Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, which tells of a people who were once wicked under the reign of a tyrannous, idolatrous king but repented after being enslaved by their enemies and having a righteous king take the stead of his wicked father. The people were humbled by their enslavement and began to seek out their God for help. But an interesting thing happens. It says that, "the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began...to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage." (Mosiah 21: 15, Italics added.)
Because of their wickedness (they killed a prophet by fire, and lived riotously) the Lord was slow to hear their prayers....but He did hear them. Heavenly Father knew that they still had some experience to gain from their bondage, so He did not deliver them (at that time, although they were eventually delivered) but, he did ease their burdens and blessed them "by degrees in the land." (Mosiah Chapter 21:14-17.) I love this story because we are all sinners; we all have our own kind of bondage and we can learn much from Heavenly Father's response to their cries. The Lord is in the business of "making bad men good and good men better" and He knows how to accomplish this. Sometimes that means leaving them in their trial a little bit longer. Sometimes it's in deliverance. But always, He hears our prayers. And that is the miracle of prayer.