This is the story that our priest opened his homily with today:
One day a successful businessman had a very important meeting but found himself running late and frantically searching for a parking spot. This business man had long since abandoned going to church and was generally living a very sinful life - he cheated his clients, cheated on his wife, etc... Well, desperate to find a spot and make it to the meeting, he offered up this prayer, "Lord, if you can get me a spot I promise I'll turn my life around!" At the same moment, as he turned another corner, a spot opened up and the man promptly said, "Nevermind Lord, I found one!"
Apart from just being funny I think there's a serious point to this story. Too often do our prayers get answered yet we fail to attribute it to God. Maybe we expect God to answer our prayers in some miraculous and marvelous fashion in which, were this the case, we would be sure to praise and thank Him. But most of the time this isn't the case. And maybe this shows a lack of faith in God as well, as if we're saying, "Look God, I'd really like for so-and-so to happen, but I don't expect much from you." And then by the time our prayer has been answered, we've forgotten that we even prayed for it! At least this has been my experience. Even if it's just praying for a safe flight or car ride. Often I'll get to my destination safely (= prayer answered) but never offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Why is that? Is it because my initial prayer was really only a kind of insurance? Something I do just in case? Trust in the power of your prayers! God will answer them according to His divine will and plan.
My semester in Austria opened my eyes to the reality of God working in my life and answering my prayers. I can't tell you how many times I would be back from a trip and suddenly realize how perfectly everything went and how safe we had been kept the whole time. I know it's easy to remember to thank God when something big happens but try not to forget the little things either.
God answers our prayers but he doesn't always do it in a flashy, obvious way. But this doesn't mean that we still shouldn't thank Him for his Love and Mercy. When you realize that He's answering, you realize He's listening. And don't forget to thank Him for what Garth Brooks calls "some of God's greatest gifts" - unanswered prayers. Remember that God knows what is best for us.