Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Answered prayer is dependent upon a right relationship with God. #3 in a 4 part series.

Title: Why Is God Not Answering My Prayers?, Part 1

Series: Prayer Changes Things

Text: 1 John 3:21-22

Introduction: We Forgot to Bait the Hooks

I have a friend who took his little six-year-old boy fishing with him one day. They put out the line and then went up to the cabin. After an hour, they went back down to the river to see if they had caught anything.

Sure enough, there were several fish on the line. The boy said, "I knew there would be, Daddy."

The father asked, "How did you know?"

He replied, "Because I prayed about it."

So they baited the hooks again and put out the line and went back to the cabin for supper. Afterward, they went back to the river; again, there were fish on the line. The boy said, "I knew it."

The father said, "How?"

"I prayed again."

So they put the line back into the river and went to the cabin. Before bedtime, they went down again. This time there were no fish.

The child said, "I knew there wouldn’t be," and the father asked, "How did you know?"

The boy said, "Because I didn’t pray this time."

The father asked, "And why didn’t you pray?"

And the boy said, "Because I remembered that we forgot to bait the hooks." (Robert Goodrich, What’s It All About. James Hewitt, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1988), p. 420).

I believe the dilemma we are facing is simply the fact that we don’t really believe that God answers our prayers. We believe He will answer some one else’s prayers, but not ours. What we don’t seem to understand is that God can respond to prayer in 4 ways:

1. He can say, “Yes.”

2. He can say, “No.”

3. He can say, “Wait.”

4. He can refuse to respond.

Yes, we can handle.

No is not so easy, but we can accept God’s divine will and know that in His love He will not give us anything that He knows will hurt us.

Wait is a little harder. We tend to want what we want now, not later. We don’t want to wait.

But there are certain conditions in which God will not answer our prayers. According to 1 John 3:21-22, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” A guaranteed answer to prayer, then, is dependent upon the condition of the heart. Only when we have a right relationship with God, when we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight, will He fulfill His promise to answer us. It is conceivable, therefore, that He will refuse to answer, holding back His intended blessings, if there are problems in our spiritual relationship. If we feel that God is ignoring us, perhaps we simply need to look inward to find the problem. We can start by asking ourselves some soul-searching questions.


Anger – a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.

Wrath – retributive punishment for sin or crime.

Note: The implication here is that we cannot be holy while we cherish a spirit of anger. Someone once said, “Some Christians are like balloons--full of wind and ready to blow up.” (Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990).)

Note: Anger is not always sin (Ephesians 4:26-27).

A. Anger Destroys Unity. Ephesians 4:31-32

Illustration: Cross or Sin?

A man once told his pastor, “I have a fierce temper, but I suppose that is my cross.”

“My friend,” the pastor replied lovingly, “That is not your cross, but it is your sin!” (Alan Redpath in Victorious Christian Faith. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 8.)

1. We cannot pray effectively when we harbor a spirit of contention.

2. A bad relationship with other believers will always hinder our prayer life.

B. Anger Breeds Resentment.

Illustration: A Dollar’s Worth Of Resentment

There was a merchant who had identical twin sons. The boys worked for their father in the department store he owned and, when he died, they took over the store. Everything went well until the day a dollar bill disappeared. One of the brothers had left the bill on the cash register and walked outside with a customer. When he returned, the money was gone.

He asked his brother, "Did you see that dollar bill on the cash register?"

His brother replied that he had not. But the young man kept probing and questioning. He would not let it alone.

"Dollar bills just don’t get up and walk away! Surely you must have seen it!"

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