I'm front-paging this for the selfish reason that I want to see if anyone knows the title or author of this story--
I remember an amazing short story (well, of course, not the title or author) where a little boy recently lost his mother. He has misplaced a beloved toy, and his father, not wanting him to feel more pain, hears him praying to God that the toy would be recovered. Well, Dad goes out and gets him a replacement toy and tells him, "I found it!" and the boy thinks his prayer was answered. Then Dad hears him praying to God that his mom will come back.
Great use of irony and pathos-- and "wrong thing for the right reason" action. (Anyone know this story? I'd love to use it in a class.)