Summary: What do I do if God isn't answering my prayers?
Does God answer all prayer? What does your experience tell you? Most of us have had the experience where our prayers “didn’t seem to get past the ceiling.” But what does the Bible tells us? There are times when God does not acknowledge our prayers. Let me first say though that often our prayers aren’t answered because they aren’t offered.
“You do not have because you do not ask God.” - James 4:2 (NIV)
You may ask, “If God knows everything, then He knows my needs. So why does He require me to make requests of Him?” Well, obviously, it is for our benefit. Through prayer, we grow in our dependence on God, our faith in God and our experiential knowledge of God, all of which helps us to mature as a follower of Christ.
More is said about prayer and less done about it than perhaps any other subject in the Bible. That’s why so many Christians are independent, rather than God-dependent, fearful, rather than faithful, empty instead of fulfilled, and immature, rather than mature.
We need to persevere in prayer until we receive God’s answer, which is why we need to know what to do if we haven’t yet received an answer.
1. I need to look to myself.
A. Is my manner of living wrong?
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” - Psalm 66:18 (NIV)
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” - Isaiah 59:1-2 (NIV)
“Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done.” - Micah 3:4 (NIV)
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” - 1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.” - 1 John 3:21-22 (NIV)
God doesn’t just hear our words, He reads our hearts. If anything is amiss in our relationship, He will convict us, and when He does, we must confess our sin (1 John 1:9) in order to be heard by Him.
B. Is my motive for asking wrong?
God will not hear selfish prayers - where I have the attitude, “I want what I want, whether God wants it for me our not.”
“[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.” - James 4:3 (Amplified)
Our proper motive must be that the Father be glorified in the Son.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” - John 14:13 (NIV)
“If we ask and God does not give, then the fault is with us. Every unanswered prayer is a clarion call to search the heart to see what is wrong there.” - The Kneeling Christian, circa 1930
2. I need to look to my prayer.
A. Am I praying according to God’s will?
“And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.” - 1 John 5:14 (Amplified)
God’s blessings are found within the sphere of His will. If we won’t yield to His will, then His blessing is withheld. When it comes to receiving answers to prayer, the problem is never God’s unwillingness to answer, but our unreadiness to receive His answer.
B. Am I praying in faith?
“Everything you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith.” - Mark 11:24 (CEV)
Do I really expect God to answer my prayer? One reason we don’t receive answers to prayer is that we really do not expect God to answer.
C. Am I dictating to God?
We need to offer specific requests in prayer, but we must be willing for God to answer in His way. We can’t tell God how to run His business!
A man began to wonder if God heard his prayers. He looked to heaven and yelled, “Hey God, can you hear me?” No response. He yelled out, “Hey, God, if you can really hear me, tell me what to do with my life.” A voice thundered a reply, “I want you to go overseas to spread the Gospel!” This was more of a challenge than he really wanted, so he said, “Actually, God, I was just checking to see if you were there.” The voice from above replied: “That’s alright; I also was only checking to see if you were there.”