Why the answer to prayer is delayed.

Ah! many earnest suppliants wail forth prayers, till the smoke of their wailing rises to Heaven. Yes, the perfume of the incense of sinners’ groans mounts up above the lofty roof of Heaven. Then the angels supplicate God, saying, “O Thou that hearest prayer and relievest pain, Thy faithful slave is bowing down before Thee. He knows of none on whom to rely save Thee. Thou bestowest favours on the helpless. Every suppliant obtains his desire from Thee.” God makes answer, “The delay in granting his prayer is intended to benefit him, not to harm him. His pressing need draws him from his negligence to Me. Yes,

[it] drags him by the hair into My courts. If I at once remove his need he will go away, and will be destroyed in his idle sports. Though he is wailing with heartfelt cry of ‘O Aider!’ Bid him wail on with broken heart and contrite breast. His voice sounds sweet in My ears. His wailing and cries of ‘O God!’ in this way [of] supplication and lamentation prevails with Me altogether.”

from Mathnawi, Book VI

Painting – ‘Prayer on the House Top’ by Jean Leon Gerome