God wants your heart.
Yes, it's true that many things need to be prayed for a long time and demand lots of inner work before you reap fruits.
And it's also true that some things simply aren't meant for you, for whatever the reason, and you never see the fruits of those prayers in this lifetime.
But some things (even MANY things) are given to you just for the asking...if you simply make the request.
True Story #1
I stopped in the hallway, raised my hands, and said, "Hashem, please tell me what to do with my life!"
Immediately, I heard a siren -- and not a test-siren either, but a real one. "Ah-ha!" I said. "You want me to sit in my safe room and talk to You." (Because finding a bomb shelter and praying are all you can and should do in the face of an oncoming missile.)
Additionally, my area had hardly been under attack at that point and we didn't have sirens blaring every week, so a real siren at that exact moment was a definite sign.
So that was a pretty clear -- and fast! -- answer to my request.
And since then, I've obeyed that answer a lot.
True Story #2
While I did not know the boy personally, I'd met his parents a couple of times and found them (especially the father) to be particularly coarse, crass, immature individuals. Furthermore, 3 of their first four children displayed particularly problematic middot, especially the 12-year-old boy who tantrumed and whined wordlessly until he was fitted with a napkin around his neck and then spoon-fed his meal by his mother. (Shades of Colin Craven!) This happened at a public gathering, BTW. As shocking as his uninhibited infantility was, I was even more shocked that his mother indulged him so theatrically and willingly, and that his father looked upon him affectionately while murmuring justification of his son's bizarre behavior.
It was somewhat reassuring to see that the 14-year-old brother was looking on the whole scene with horror. What a relief to see that despite the bizarre and dysfunctional family dynamics, at least one child knew that his parents' and brother's behavior was seriously out of whack.
Yet when the 8-year-old sister started whining for some of the same pampering ("I want the soft part of the bread!"), the father snarled, "Oh, knock it off! You're just copying him for the attention!" (Yet without missing a beat, the mother passed the girl the white part from her own bread when the father turned his head for a moment.)
There's more yuck to relate, but let's just say that wasn't even the worst or most shocking thing the father said that night.
(I met this family another time a couple of months later, and they were still awful and strange.)
Anyway, I didn't know what to do.
On one hand, you can't judge a boy by his parents (as the oldest brother clearly proved).
Nor can you judge someone by a couple of incidents that occurred 18 years ago.
Yet on the other hand, it's very unlikely for such people to change even over the course of 18 years.
And it's also unlikely for the son of such people to turn out decently.
Unlikely, but not impossible.
(Not to mention, such people likely treat their daughters-in-law like garbage.)
This situation (particularly after the official engagement) wasn't covered clearly in any of my lashon hara books. I seriously considered calling a rav to ask whether I'm halachically allowed to say anything, but as I tried to mentally rehearse the shailah, it seemed unlikely. I've had mixed experience asking shailot; some rabbis tend toward sarcasm or grumpiness, which makes me tongue-tied.
The fact that the incidents occurred 18 years ago and did not directly involve the boy (who was only around 2 at the time) threw a wrench into things.
I also couldn't speak with my husband because he knew this family, making it non-toelet lashon hara. (Not to mention, my husband didn't share the same opinion of them as I did due to the man having helped my husband get a good job at one point, for which my husband was very grateful and appreciative.)
So I turned to Hashem and told him about how conflicted I felt and how much I wanted this girl to marry a very good guy, and that if this guy wasn't the right one, then Hashem should bring her "good and true zivug b'shaah tovah u'mutzlachat." (I got this nusach from Dayan Fischer when I accompanied a friend to get a psak.) Another gem I'd heard about was to daven that the potential mate be healthy in body and soul and come from an emotionally healthy (bari b'nefesh!) family. So I asked for that too.
Interestingly, the mother approached me 2 weeks later and quietly informed me that the shidduch had been called off. She'd noticed some issues in the boy and his family that "weren't so compatible" and after consulting with a rabbinical authority and getting a bracha from another rav, they all cancelled the engagement.
I was thrilled, of course.
A couple of months later, this same triplet got engaged for real to a good guy. Ironically, his mother isn't physically healthy (she's in a wheelchair), but I kept hearing about how nice the family is, and how all the brothers so willingly carry their mother in her wheelchair up and down stairs without complaint and without trying to duck out of the responsibility.
So that's Hashem taking the prayer literally. I davened only for her zivug to have an emotionally healthy family because I thought that's most important as far as in-laws go. And that's what she got!
Just to be clear: I don't consider myself the main player in this saga. The triplets are each other's best friends and were of course discussing things amongst each other and davening for their engaged sister, and davening with much more heart as only a womb-sharing sister can. The same can be said for the parents and other siblings, who were of course davening and investigating with deep care and concern.
At the same time, I don't think my prayers on behalf of the betrothed triplet were nothing. I definitely feel that Hashem listened to me too.
That's not gaava; that's just spiritual physics.
The point is that all of us (the girl's parents, me, etc.) were regular flawed people, yet Hashem listened to our prayers and answered in our favor in a timely manner.
You don't need to be a tzaddik to receive Divine favors. Many times, you just need to ask.
True Story #3
A few days later, her mother sent her $1000, saying that she'd gotten a nice tax return that year and decided to spread the surplus among her adult children.
At first my friend didn't make the connection. After she'd completed her list of 1000 gratitudes, she felt worn out and anticlimactic, and then forgot about it. Yet when she realized that she'd received a present of exactly $1000 (and her parents are not people of means) only a few days after she'd written up exactly 1000 gratitudes, she said, "If only I'd know God was paying 1 dollar per gratitude, I'd have listed a million!"
Now, no offense to this friend, but while she possesses some wonderful qualities, she also possesses some real flaws too. She struggles with some pretty bad middot (but at least she struggles, rather than denying them). Yet Hashem gave her this $1000 windfall anyway without her even specifically asking for it.
Fervently Flawed People Can Receive Divine Favor Too
Too many people today feel like "only truly great people can do that," but that kind of thinking is all wrong when it comes to connecting with Hashem.
Just pour out your heart and ask.
Then see what happens.
Sure, the answer could be no.
But what if it's yes?