This is a very good question, which reflects a heart that desires to draw closer to God, or at least wants to know if God hears.
First the Bible tells us that we walk in faith and not by the things that we see, nor by emotions that we feel. We walk on faith, and we pray in faith. This is crucial and important for often we want more of experience and feelings than just relying on God and His Character as stated in the Bible. Our feelings falter and change every moment, but God’s Character does not.
Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Mark 11:24 (KJV) Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Secondly, God answers, surely, if there is no unconfessed sin in our lives. More specifically, if there is no “favorite sin” that we hold on to. Confession and true repentance are of utmost importance if we want our prayers to br heard.
Isaiah 59:1-2 (KJV) Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
1 John 1:8-10 (KJV) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Thirdly, God answers in three forms: Yes, No, or Wait.
If it is a Yes, then your prayers will be answered as you have asked, in His timing, and the waiting is little.
If it is a No, then God has other plans. Submit then and don’t be rebellious.
If it is Wait, then you have to endure waiting. This is the hardest answer to our prayers. Naturally, in our carnal state, we hate to wait, we are so impatient and hasty. But if we are filled with God’s Spirit, waiting becomes joyful and a wonderful experience because through it our character and desires are molded and perfected.
Does God answers our prayers subtly or obviously? The answer directly depends a person’s nearness to God. The more a saint is intimate with God, the more he discerns God’s answer. But if he is living a lukewarm faith, or worse as a backslider, he or she would hardly know it or even not get any answer to his or her prayers at all.
Intimacy and nearness to God is of utmost importance in all cases.