Why Are My Prayers Not Answered?
Last updated 1/10/2021 at 11:19am
One of the most encouraging things about the Christian life is the knowledge that we serve a God who welcomes, encourages, and answers our prayers. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, God's Son, believers can come before the presence of God in prayer. Our prayers should contain praise, thanksgiving, petitions, and supplications.
When we as believers approach God the Father in prayer, we do so in the name of Jesus Christ who satisfied the Law of God, and is now seated beside the Father interceding on our behalf. Jesus's death made it possible for unholy men to approach the thrice Holy God.
The writer of Hebrews states, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
One might ask, "If this is true, why are my prayers not always answered?" There are several reasons why prayers seem to go unanswered. James says, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss." (James 4:3) The word "amiss" means to ask in a mistaken way. This would certainly include selfish reasons as stated in the last part of James 4:3, "that ye may consume it upon your lusts." When one prays for selfish reasons, they are asking God to oblige them in their sin, that of selfishness. We should not expect God to answer such prayers.
We read in Mark 11:24, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Many people look to this verse as a proof text to argue that we will receive everything we ask for; that God will answer our prayers according to our desire. Unfortunately, they fail to continue reading the next couple verses that say, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." Matthew says, "if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23, 24). These verses, along with others such as I Peter 3:7 which says, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" teach us that our relationship with others can indeed hinder our prayers.
We find another reason our prayers go unanswered in James 5:16 where we read, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" and Psalm 34:15 which reads, "The eyes of the LORD are UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, and his ears are open unto THEIR cry." (emphasis mine). This doesn't mean that God is obligated to answer the prayer of one who is doing his best. Nor does it mean that God will not answer the prayer of one who is less than perfect. Were this the case, none of us would ever have our prayers answered, for none of us are perfect. What it does mean is that how we live is a factor in whether are prayers are answered.
Yet another reason our prayers go unanswered is because of a lack of faith. James says, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." (James 1:6,7).
We see then that our prayers are affected by our attitude, our relationships, the way we live our lives, and our faith.
We further must understand that no matter how pure our motives, no matter our relationship with others, no matter how good a life we live, or how much faith we have, God will not grant unto us anything that is not according to His will. John says, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (I John 5:14,15). God will give us only that which is in accordance to His perfect will.
When it seems your prayers are going unanswered make sure your motives are pure, you are not out of sorts with anyone, you are living a life consistent with the Lord's teaching, and that you truly believe God can answer your prayer. With these things confirmed, pray as Jesus Christ Himself did, "Father, if thou be willing... nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)
Payer is not a magic formula that says if we do A and B, God will do C. God is not obligated to answer any prayer. He does so, according to His perfect will. As we study the Word of God and grow in our relationship with the Lord, our will will be more in line with His. It is then that we can expect our prayers to be answered.
The Psalmist David wrote, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." (Psalm
Michael Wilder is pastor of New Life Baptist. He can be reached at 606-465-3097.