Why Prayers Aren’t Answered

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 The Bible provides a number of possibilities of why prayers are not answered.  Here are 10 of them:

1 - Not Believing/ Not Standing in Faith for a Long Enough Period of Time

Jesus gives us one of the key scriptures for answered prayer  in Mark 11:23-24, “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask, when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.”  (learn more at the Mountain-Moving Prayer link).

This scripture is designed to deal with any major obstacle in your life including sickness, financial lack, etc.  Notice that you are to believe you receive the answer, not after you see the results, but when you pray.  If you don’t truly believe when you pray or if your faith waivers when you don’t see quick results, the prayer may go unanswered.  Be assured that it is God’s will to answer your prayers, but it is our faith that plugs into God’s promises.  Reread the page on prayer.  Read the page on mountain-moving prayer.   We have seen and experienced instant healings and answered prayers, some that took place overnight and others that took days, weeks or months.   The healing or answer will manifest if you stay in faith.  The word works! 

R. A. Torrey is quoted as saying “Prayers are hindered by unbelief.  God demands that we shall believe His Word absolutely.  To question it is to make Him out a liar…We go to God and ask Him for something that is positively promised in His Word, and then we do not more than half expect to get it.”

GO DEEPER  Go to the link for healing scriptures and an in-depth explanation as to why the Word works in healing.  The Bible says the Word is like medicine.  Say these scriptures out loud, several times a day.  It is the medicine you are to take. 

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2 - God’s Delay  ~  You Need to Wait!

There are times when God  intentionally delays an answer to prayer.  We have to trust that He has perfect timing.  Often our requests have an impact on other lives and God has to align every person and every circumstance before bringing your request to fruition.  Delay does not necessarily mean no! 

God also uses delay to test our faith and patience.  Will we trust Him for an extended period of time?  The Bible refers to placing gold in the crucible to bring out the dross.  In other words, God will let us stay “in the fire” for a long period until our sins, pride, selfishness, etc. have been exposed and removed.  We have to trust that God will not leave us in the fire longer than necessary and He won’t let us out until His work in us has been complete.

3 - Sin

 Jesus healed a man who had been infirmed for 38 years.  “Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See you have been made well.  Go and sin no more or a worse thing may happen to you.” (John 5:14). When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, He addressed her accusers and then said to her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (read the entire account in John 8:3-11). 

The truth is, when we sin, we tend to move away from God.  When we refuse to stay within the “fence”, the boundaries laid out in His word, we  open ourselves up to the consequences of sin. 

GO DEEPER  Spend time in prayer, asking God to show you any unrepented sin in your life.  Be willing to acknowledge as sin anything the Lord shows you (sometimes we don’t call sin, sin).  Don’t assume that because the behavior is acceptable by the world’s standards that it is acceptable to God.

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4 - Having Unforgiveness/Resentment

There are a number of scriptures that imply that if unforgiveness is present, it will be a real prayer-blocker.   Jesus said,  “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)”  At the end of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus also says “If you forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” 

5 - Not Walking in Love

Husbands and wives are warned that if they do not walk in love towards one another, their prayers may be hindered. “…Husbands, likewise, dwell with your wives with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:6-7)  We think it is safe to say that not walking in love toward anyone will hinder your prayer life.  God is love. 

GO DEEPER  It’s good to take a frequent spiritual inventory.  1 Corinthians 11:31 “If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged.”  Ask God to show you any areas where you are lacking in love.  Be open to what He wants to show you.  Remember, you are Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20).  You should reflect Him and His ways in all that you say, do and think.  If you’re not sure about your love walk, red flags would include impatience, criticism, gossiping, selfishness and self-focus, greed, lack of compassion, etc.

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6 - Grumbling and Complaining

One of the longest accounts in the Bible is the story of the Jewish people being delivered out of slavery in Egypt, spending 40 years in the wilderness and going into the Promised Land (read the entire account in the book of Exodus).  The account frequently shows  people grumbling and complaining against God and God’s appointed leader.  The trip from Egypt to the Promised Land should have taken 11 days.  Instead, the constant complaining kept them in the wilderness for 40 years. 

Grumbling and complaining does several things:

  • It’s rude and shows a lack of respect and appreciation toward God
  • It’s not walking in faith
  • It can substantially delay your “deliverance” 
GO DEEPER  What things trigger grumbling and complaining in you?  Delays?  Not getting your way? Disappointments?  Being treated unfairly?  When tempted to complain, check yourself immediately.  Don’t let a complaint come from your lips.  If Jesus was standing in front of you, would you grumble against Him or worship Him?  The truth is, if He was in front of you, you’d fall face down in worship.  Well, Jesus is right here.  Show Him the respect and reverence He deserves.  God has given up everything for you.  He loves you and is working on your situation (if you have committed it to Him in prayer).  Some problems come from satan.  Don’t blame God for satan’s handiwork!  Also be careful not to blame God for circumstances that are the result of your poor choices.   Instead, thank Him that He has heard your prayers and is working on your situation.  When disappointed, thank God for all that He has already done on your behalf, thank Him that He loves you and has your best interest in mind.  Show God that you trust Him in all things by your praise!

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7 - Lack of Knowledge

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…”  (Hosea 4:6).  You can’t stand in faith on the Word of God if you don’t know the Word of God.  The Bible is filled with tremendous promises from God, ready to be claimed by His people. Click on the link for a list of Bible promises.

GO DEEPER  Every person who has a good understanding of the Bible started reading one day with little or no knowledge.  Don’t feel over-whelmed with getting started!  We recommend that you invest in a good study Bible (NIV Life Application Bible is a good choice).  As with anything else, you have to make a commitment to going deeper in the word if that is to be a reality in your life.  Wouldn’t you like to know what you are missing?  Wouldn’t you like to hear what God has to say to you directly through His word? 

8 - Satan is Resisting You

The Bible is clear that we have an enemy.  Jesus said “The thief (satan) comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10).  Satan comes against us through lies, deception, fear, sickness, addictions and shame.  The Apostle Paul said we are clearly in a spiritual battle.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). 

There are times when you are doing everything “right”, but you are not seeing answers to prayers.  It may be that satan is resisting you.  Paul said we are in a battle and we need to have God’s armor to stand or fight.  Read the full account in Ephesians 6:10-18.  Also go to the study on Spiritual Warfare for more information.

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9 - Not Praying According to God’s Will

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us,whatever we ask,we know that we have what we asked.”  (1 John 5:14-15). 

The more time you spend in prayer and reading the word, the more sensitive you will be to discerning the will of God. The Holy Spirit will guide the believer as they seek wisdom in prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5).   All prayer requests should line up with the Word.

10 - God’s Ways are Not Our Ways

There may be occasions when we will not understand an outcome.  We have prayed according to God’s will (as best as we understand), we have stayed in faith and have spoken to the mountain but a different outcome arises.  There are three distinct possibilities:  1) God says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8).  We may not see the full plan of God or understand how far-reaching his purposes are on this side of heaven, but we can be certain  that God is a good God and He has our best interest at heart.  2) We are in a spiritual battle.  We can not always assume that everything that happens on the earth is God’s will.  For example, the Bible clearly tells us that it is not God’s will for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but yet Jesus says only a few will find salvation and many will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14).  God is not responsible for the tragic deaths of young people.  Remember, we have an enemy who is out to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).  3) God has given people free will.  We can pray that God will influence their will, but they still have choice.  Choice often has its own bad consequences.

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