For the New Year when I was six years old, I wanted to move to the mountains. My family had visited relatives who lived in a mountainous area over the Christmas holiday, and that was the first time I’d experienced the magic of so much snow.

Starting around Christmas and continuing well into January, I began praying earnestly for our family’s relocation. At first, I was confident that this would take place soon, but as February and March rolled by, it became obvious that no move was imminent. I eventually got over the childish fixation, but the question lingered in my mind much longer: Why had God not answered my prayer? 

I realize now that God does always answer our prayers, but not always right away or always in the way we want or expect Him to. Sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes He says “no,” and sometimes He says “wait.”

As children, we would see something we wanted in a store, or something that our schoolmates had, and we were convinced it could make us happy and we would pray that God would provide that for us. Some of us still have this mentality and act as though God is like Santa, ticking items off our wish list.

God doesn’t answer some prayers the way we want or expect Him to because He knows that what we’re praying for would not really be good for us or others. Other times, God may have answered our prayer, but we simply don’t like the way He did it. If we’ve already figured out exactly what we want and are just asking God to provide it for us, but our plan isn’t what He knows is best, then He is doing the wise and loving thing in withholding our request.

What about me? In the years since I prayed that prayer as a child, which didn’t seem to materialize, I’ve enjoyed many snowy winters in several countries and settings. In my case, it turned out God’s answer was “Yes, in My time.”