There are times in which it is hard to believe.
Times in which it is hard to have faith.
We pray and pray and we hope and hope for a miracle that just never seems to come.
What do you do when that happens?
Why does that happen?
How come other people get healed, get a job, find true love, or seem to get whatever else they want?
Well there are really only two places to look at when we pray. There’s God. And there’s you.
I don’t know how many times people point the finger at some poor schmuck like me and tell me that it’s my fault God doesn’t answer my prayers. That maybe I have some unconfessed sin in my life, or that I don’t have enough faith to get what I asked for.
Then there’s the other side of the table. Some people even tell me there’s no God or that He doesn’t care or love me. Perhaps He is not interested in my petty little things. Maybe I shouldn’t even bother Him at all!
The problem with these views is that they are problem centric and blaming. I might be struggling in some area that prevents me from hearing God, but that doesn’t make me a victim of it. The image is the exact opposite of my actual identity as a child of God.
I remember as a kid, I would ask my Dad for something or other. Sometimes, he would say yes. Other times, no. And there were those awful times he would say after you clean up your room. I’d rather get a no, than get a conditional yes, if I had to do actual work!
Maybe Dad was a reflection of how God answers prayers. Here are some reasons why our prayers seem to go unanswered.
Author Ugochi Outsejolomisan lists three reasons why God might not grant your prayer requests:
- Maybe it is not the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
- Maybe it is not in your best interest (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Maybe God has something better in mind for you (Isaiah 55:9).
What are some things about us, barriers that we might have to prevent us from receiving answers to our prayers?
Many writers and speakers agree on the common ones and the list I am using today could have been taken from a number of them. But this list actually comes from Charles Cruise:
- Prayerlessness. You have to actually ask God and not just think about asking God (James 4:2).
- Wrong motives. God is not obliged to answer our prayers if they are self-serving. (James 4:3).
- Unconfessed Sin. God wants us to repent and submit ourselves to Him. Sin that we try to hide from God is rebellion, and He already knows about it anyway (Psalm 66:18).
- Giving up. We pray and pray and then stop praying before the answer is ready. Not all prayers are instantly answered (Galatians 6:9).
- Lack of Faith. There is a difference between hope and belief. We must believe the God is who He says He is and that He loves us (Hebrews 11:6).
- Unforgiveness. This is a tough one and it is true. Remember the “Our Father” prayer? There is a reason we ask God to forgive as we forgive others. Unforgiveness leads to holding grudges and a hardness that hinders love. God is love. You can figure it out from there (Mark 11:25).
So, there you have it. Ten reasons why prayers do not seem to get answered. When my prayers seem to not be effective, the first place I start with is myself. By going through the reasons why my prayers might not be answered I can eliminate anything I am doing that puts a barrier between myself and God.
Then I can be assured that whatever God does, He will do it in His timing, for my best interest, and it will be better than what I asked for.
If your prayers are not answered, don’t blame God. Don’t even blame yourself. Ask God to help you examine yourself and see if there is anything you are doing or not doing that is hurting your relationship with God. Then change them. After you do your part, you can rest assured that God’s got your prayers in His hands and will answer them in love and in His time.
Andy Becker is lead of Lighthouse Ministries which brings God’s love and presence to the North Central area of Regina, Canada. He is also a writer, public speaker, former counselor, and former Executive Director of a Hospice.