Why are prayers not answered?

Question: “Why are prayers not answered and what requirements need to be met?”

Bible Answers

There are conditions we must meet before God will answer our prayers. Some of these conditions include:

1.  Are you approaching God with a pure heart?

If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalms 66:18). Sin and unforgiveness are the primary heart polluters that separate us from God.

When we walk before the Lord with a pure heart, whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:21-22).

2. We Must Pray According to God's Will.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14).

3.  We Must Pray in Faith.

Ask in faith without doubting; believing in God and His Word.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

4. We Must Pray with Forgiveness of Others.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15).  How did God, our model, forgive?  For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).  And Jesus commanded, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

5.  We Must Pray Having Repented of Our Sins.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin (2 Chr. 7:14).

Sin covers a large area and includes unforgiveness, pride, iniquity, false motives, stealing, murder, adultery, swearing falsely, sexual immorality, failing to tithe correctly, failing to help the poor, being unloving to our spouse, and serving other gods including serving the world.  Recall, that there is no such thing as small or insignificant sin.  If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9).  Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:1-2).  

Another sin that we may not consider is putting idols before God. An idol causes God to not hear our prayers. What is an idol?  An idol is anything that takes first place in our hearts ahead of God. An idol can be a man’s wife, children, a person’s reputation, their business, money, power, golf, sex, or their lifestyle.  If God is not answering your prayers, search for what is separating you from God.

We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

6.  We Must Pray Fervently, with Humility and Respect.

Before a person should expect an answer to their prayers, they must first have a good relationship with God.  

7.  Are you praying with pure motives?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).

8.  Prayer requires faithfulness in praying.

…pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:17-18). One of the greatest problems with prayer is giving up before we receive the answer.

9.  Are you prideful of yourself?

…but He does not answer Because of the pride of evil men. (Job 35:12).

10.  We should be seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit. And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you” (Mark 4:24).

The last item is very IMPORTANT, but most of us miss it.

11. We Must Patiently Wait On the Lord.

Allow God to answer prayer in His perfect timing.  As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (Psalm 18:30).  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7).  

The answer may come immediately, or it may come in days, weeks, or years.  We must always remember, as David wrote, My times are in your hands (Psalm 31:15). It is during these waiting periods, when we believe, with a pure heart, that we need to trust the Lord and stand tall, waiting for the victory.  Accept that He is God and He knows what is better for us than we do.

What if your prayers are still not being answered

If your prayers are not being answered and you believe you have fulfilled all of the above, ask the Lord if you have any stumbling blocks in your life that need correcting.

However, sometimes we may feel that God has not delivered within our time limit and that we need to find our own way out. Don’t do it.  Don’t try to help God.  God doesn’t need our help or solutions.  He wants our faith, obedience, and trust.  

God tells us to give our concerns to Him. Even as the situation remains dismal,  Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.  If the circumstances do not improve, God can still give us His peace in the midst of it. Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27).

Sometimes there is something better for you.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Do not cast away your confidence if your prayer is not immediately answered. Hold fast to your faith in the Word of God. Stand upon God’s promise and guarantee.  For he is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23).

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