Another problem remains. It is quite apparent that the acts of man will not necessarily prove successful. Man may do all that is necessary, and do so in a proper way, and still fail to realize his goals. It is likewise with prayer: one may pray properly, at the right time and with the right devotion, yet his request is not fulfilled.

Now the reason may be that G‑d refuses to assent as a form of punishment or trial, or because the petitioner is not yet fully prepared and ready. Then, again, there may be some other, external impediment.

Another, and possibly most frequent reason, is that "No" may also be an answer, and in fact the best possible answer. The request may not have been assented to by Divine Providence for a good reason: Omniscient G‑d knows that the favor requested is ultimately not in the best interest of the petitioner. For many of man's prayers are inappropriate and unreasonable. They are mere personal desires which we, thinking in terms of `here and now,' imagine to be needs or essential for our welfare and happiness.

Of this it has been said, "The needs of Your people are many and their wit is scant:' because their wit is scant, that is why their needs are many."

In this context we must consider two things.

On the one hand, man must always retain faith and trust in G‑d, and hope that his requests (insofar that they are proper, reasonable, and suitable) will be fulfilled. This trust in G‑d must be strong and sincere, to the extent that "even when a sharp sword is already on your neck, do not refrain from asking for G‑d's mercy."

On the other hand, one must be careful not to fall prey to the sin of presumptuous calculation on prayer (iyun tefilah), that is, to expect that G‑d will definitely accept and grant the request as compensation due for praying. To be sure, one ought to hope, wait patiently, "Hope in G‑d, be strong .. and hope in G‑d" (Psalms 27:14)

Nonetheless, one must also keep in mind and consider that (as stated) there are various reasons why requests may be refused. Thus there is no reason to despair. On the contrary: contemplation on this principle should lead man to "examine his deeds, as it is written `Let us search our ways and investigate' (Lamentations 3:40)."

The proper attitude to prayer, and its most suitable content, therefore, would be some form of the prayer of R. Eliezer: "Lord of the Universe! Do Your will in heaven above, and give repose of spirit to those that fear you below; and do what is good in Your eyes. Blessed are You, G‑d, who hears prayer.

This means: "Do not attend to my words or to my requests to do what my heart desires or what I ask; for oftentimes I pray for something which is bad for me, because I imagine and think that it is good. You, however, know better than I whether it is good for me or bad. Therefore: You decide, and not I; do what You know is good - `do what is good in Your eyes.'"

"Salvation belongs to G‑d" (Psalms 3:9). G‑d alone, and not man, knows the way of salvation. Thus "Cast your burden upon G‑d and He will sustain you" (Psalms 55:23). "Commit your way unto G‑d and trust in Him, and He will act" (Psalms 37:5) to provide what is good and beneficial for you.