Why hasn't God answered our prayers? We entreat him to respond to our hurts, troubles, desires, and needs. Does God listen to our prayers? Are we wasting valuable time praying about the situations and circumstances which impact our lives?
A Broken Promise
We assume God will always listen to us and answer our prayers. We have this promise from the words of Jesus, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (Jn. 14:14 NKJV).” We bring our petitions before the throne of God expecting him to answer. We live in a culture which expects instant gratification. How often do we expect God to respond to our prayers immediately?
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (Jn. 15:7 NKJV).” Here's another example of a promise given concerning God answering prayer. This one assures us he'll give us whatever we desire. We're Christians, Christ abides in us. His Word abides in us. Is God breaking His promise when He doesn't answer our prayers?
Isaiah 65:24 says God hearkens to our prayers while we're speaking them. God will answer before we call. Hebrews 6:18 tells us God can't lie. Day after day we present our requests to God. Day after day passes without an answer. Why isn't he answering our prayers? What's stopping God from answering us?
Sometimes we ask God to do for us or give something to us out of desire. The Bible does say to ask what we desire and it'll be done for us. Come now, what's the real purpose of our desire? Are we asking God for something to consume for our own pleasure? That's the meaning of self-indulgence.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (Jas. 4:3 NKJV).” This verse is eye-opening by saying we're asking badly, or improperly, if the prayer is for something to gratify our flesh. The verse also says we won't receive the thing we're praying for. God won't answer a prayer for something we wish to consume for pleasure.
Secret Sin and Iniquity
None of us are hiding any sin in our hearts, are we? We're all good Christians, we wouldn't do that. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear (Ps. 66:18 NKJV).” Micah 3:4 tells us we can cry out to God, but if our deeds are evil he won't listen.
Sin not confessed will stop prayer cold. Sin not confessed has the power to stop God from listening to our prayers. Is some secret sin locked away in your heart? If so, such sin could be the reason why your prayers aren't being answered.
Lack of Mercy
We are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. This is the first great commandment according to Christ (Mt. 22:37-38). We're to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is the second greatest commandment according to Christ (Mt. 22:39). We're familiar with these two commandments.
We love God when we love our neighbor. We love God when we reach out in mercy to those less fortunate (Mt. 25:32-46). How can we love our neighbor? We can love our neighbor by showing them some mercy. We can love them by meeting their needs. We must never forget to show mercy to those who are less fortunate than us.
“Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard (Pr. 21:13 NKJV).” God will not attend to our prayers if we display a lack of mercy to our neighbor. If God's not willing to listen to our prayers, He's certainly not going to answer them.
Praying With Doubt
“He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (Jas. 1:6 NKJV).” The one who doubts is like a wave in the ocean blown about by the wind. To pray with doubt is praying without faith. We ask God to do something because we believe he will. At least that's what we tell ourselves. Then the slightest tempest soon blows us in another direction.
This same verse begins with “But let us ask in faith, with no doubting (Jas. 1:6).” Without faith it's impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We must believe in God to be established in anything (2Chr. 2:20). The just live by their faith (Hab. 2:4). Faith heals (Mt. 9:29-30).
“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes (Mk. 9:23 NKJV).” If we expect God to answer our prayers, we must believe, in faith, he's going to answer. Our doubt and unbelief is the number one reason why our prayers go unanswered.
We have a direct promise from the words of Jesus. Matthew 7:7 says to ask and it will be given to us. When we've prayed and there's no answer, we should calm down and search our hearts. Why are we asking God to do what we want? Are we asking for something to consume for our own pleasure? Are we hiding some sin in our heart that we're not willing to repent of? Are we neglecting the needs of our neighbors? Do we believe God's going to answer our prayers?
We'll draw closer to God when we begin examining our hearts. God will speak to us and he'll show us what we need to do so our prayers can be answered. We must believe the promise that God will listen to our prayers and answer them.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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Great job writing such a thorough and concise explanation for the number one question on so many new believer's hearts. (from my experience, anyway) AND, it wasn't boring :)
btw, just need to correct 1 word in last sentence in paragraph 7 under Sins/Iniquity
I liked the interesting perspective. It really gives one quite a bit to think about. It sure beats the tired answer that sometimes God says no.
A suggestion, depending on who you are trying to reach, you might want to give only one or two examples. It might feel a little intimidating for someone who is new to the faith. If it's meant for Bible scholars then it's appropriate as is, otherwise you might want to tighten it up a bit for new believers.
Over all it's magnificent work and research. I'm quite impressed.