All of us have had experiences when it didn't look like our prayers were answered. But is that really what happened? The Bible says in Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Is that true? Well, many people say it couldn't mean what it appears to say, because they can cite experiences where they asked for something and didn't receive. But you've got to make the decision stated in Romans 3:4, to "Let God be true, but every man [or in this case, every circumstance] a liar." God's Word is true, not our experiences.
This is one of the reasons so much doctrinal division has come about. The Word is clear in its doctrine, but when someone tries the Word and doesn't see the promised results, rather than admit that they could have failed, they say something like, "That must have passed away with the apostles" or "It must not have been God's will," etc. God is not the one who failed to answer, but rather we are the ones who have failed to receive.
What actually happens when we ask in prayer is that God moves immediately and gives us the answer in our spirits. We are responsible for believing that, and acting accordingly to bring the answer into the physical world. God is a spirit (John 4:24), and He always supplies our answer to our spirit man. Through faith, we then give physical substance (Heb. 11:1) to what God has done.
We are like a spiritual transformer. Spiritual power has to be converted to physical power just as radio signals have to be converted into frequencies audible to our physical ear. You don't hear the actual signal broadcast by the radio station, but rather a signal that has been picked up by a receiver and translated into an audible sound. For a person to say that there aren't any radio signals where they are, just because they cannot hear them, is not true. They are there, but they are on a higher frequency than the human ear can hear. They have to be "demodulated" into a lower frequency which we can hear.
This is the way our answers to prayer come. God moves in the spirit world and gives us our answer by faith, and we convert it into a physical reality through our actions. That is not to say that we are the one who produced the answer by our own power. It is God who works the miracles, but they do come through us. Without Him, we can do nothing, but He has made us joint heirs together with Christ so that He does nothing without us. Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, ACCORDING TO THE POWER THAT WORKETH IN US" (emphasis mine). We have a part to play in receiving from God. Ignorance of this has been our greatest problem.
Now you can understand much more clearly what Mark 11:24 means, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." You receive in your spirit by faith immediately, and it shall come to pass in the physical later. It may be one minute, one day, or one year, but you cannot waiver in your belief that God has already answered your prayer. The time that it takes for God's answer to be manifest in the physical is dependent upon many things, but it is not God who determines that. God answers immediately. Remember, it says you must believe that you receive WHEN YOU PRAY. God isn't asking you to believe something that isn't true. You do receive instantly in your spirit, then it is manifest in the physical later.
An example of this is in Daniel 9 and 10. In chapter 9, Daniel prayed a prayer, and while he was still praying, his answer to prayer came in the form of Gabriel giving him "skill and understanding" in the thing he desired. That's a quick answer to prayer, but in verse 23, Gabriel says that God had sent him forth at the beginning of his prayer. God moved instantly, but it took about 3 minutes for the answer to appear in the physical realm. In Daniel chapter 10, he prayed another prayer, and his answer took three full weeks to manifest. What a difference!
Most people would say, "I wonder why God answered that first prayer in three minutes, and the second prayer took three weeks. But in Daniel 10:12, we find that God answered the second prayer instantly too. Praise God! The Lord was not the variable. In this case, it was a demonic force, "the prince of the kingdom of Persia," that had hindered the answer to Daniel's prayer.
Whether it be Satan or people's wills or unbelief or any of a number of other possible hindrances, it's important that you know that it's not God who seems so unpredictable (Ps. 102:27, Mal. 3:6). In fact, this is a fundamental truth that you must be established in before you can even begin to do anything about speeding up the answer to your prayer. If you have prayed a prayer in line with God's Word, God answers it immediately (1 John 5:14-15; Dan. 9, 10). If you understand that, then you are ready to begin releasing your faith over bringing that answer into complete manifestation.