Conversations with Angie: Biblical reasons for unanswered prayers, part 3
Besides these three Biblical reasons for why prayers might not be answered, there are other reasons that seem pretty obvious. Suppose there's this stock, call it XYZ. Several people buy that stock hoping it will go up in price. But then there's another group of people who want to short the stock.* The people who buy the stock are praying it goes up, and the people who short the stock are praying it goes down. Obviously, the stock can't both go down and go up at the same time, so some prayers are going to go unanswered. Likewise, when any two people are praying mutually exclusive prayers, they can't both be answered.
To summarize about my views on unanswered prayers, I share your discomfort with them. They are one of my major causes for doubt. But they are not enough to shake my belief in Christianity because (1) there are possibly good reasons for why they aren't answered whether I know what those reasons are or not, and (2) the doubt they cause is not nearly enough to overcome the reasons I have for thinking Christianity is true.
*I don't know whether or not you know what that means, so I'll explain it just in case. When you short a stock, what you do is borrow the stock from somebody else, and sell it. Say the stock is worth $20, so you now have $20 in your account. Then you sit back and pray that the stock goes down. Let's say it goes down to $10. At that point, you buy the stock back at $10, and give it back to the person you borrowed it from. Now you've got $10 profit. So you can actually make money on stocks when they go down.
Conversations with Angie: Angie on prayer