Do you ever feel like your prayers aren’t really accomplishing anything? In those moments where it feels like you’re just aimlessly talking to the sky, it’s easy to wonder if God’s even really listening. Don’t feel guilty about those moments. Everyone, including some of the greatest heroes of the Christian faith that we read about in Scripture have had moments where they wonder why God isn’t answering their prayers. Sometimes we can figure out the reasoning on our own.
Have you ever felt like your prayers are nothing more than hollow words that are bouncing off the ceiling? If so, please don’t fall into the trap of believing that God is angry at you for feeling that way or that you’re somehow less of a Christian because you wonder why you’re not receiving answers to the questions that you’re asking. That’s simply not how this works.
At one point or another, all of us have questioned why God isn’t answering our prayers. We’ve all cried out in desperation, received no answer, and wondered why God seems to be answering the prayers of everyone around us while we’re left looking for answers in solitude.
What if you could figure out why God isn’t answering your prayers? What if there was some kind of answer to the question that people have been asking since the days of the Old Testament? That’s not a hypothetical situation. There are answers to that question found within Scripture.
Take note, some of the possible causes of unanswered prayers may be hard to digest. The journey we’re about to go on may force you to confront some parts of your own life that you’re not excited about acknowledging. However, the questions that you’re about to ask yourself and the answers to those questions that are based in Scripture may help you to better understand why some prayers aren’t being answered while also building up your faith that your Heavenly Father is always on your side.
How Are You Asking?
James 4:2-3 (TPT)
You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave-that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it! And if you ask, you won’t receive it for you’re asking with corrupt motives, seeking only to fulfill your selfish desires.
The first possibility that we’re going to look into is actually a two-part concept. James, the half-brother of Christ, wrote his epistle to a group of relatively new believers who were looking for some foundational truths for their faith. Within these two verses, James discussed why their prayers weren’t being answered. Do you know what that means? It means that thousands of years ago, God’s people were asking the same questions that we’re asking today.
His first possible solution to why their prayers weren’t being answered was that they just weren’t asking. Yes, God can do what we need Him to do without our prompting Him, but He likes to hear from His people. He wants us to present our needs to Him. In verse 2, James said that one reason that God’s people don’t get the things that they’re looking for because we don’t ask God for it. However, since we’re looking at why God isn’t answering our prayers, we’re going to assume that you’re asking God for the things that you’re pursuing.
This first possible cause of God not answering you is one of the difficult things to face that we discussed earlier. Motives matter. James said that we may not have our prayers answered because we’re asking with impure motives. That’s hard for us to accept, as we like to believe that everything we do is done with the best of intentions (Proverbs 21:2). However, that’s not always the case.
Why are you praying for the things that you’re praying for? Is it because you have a need in your life, or is it because you want to be better than someone around you? Sometimes our motives serve as a hindrance in the things that we’re asking God to do.
Your Relationships Are Broken
1 Peter 3:7 (TPT)
Husbands, you in turn must treat your wives with tenderness, viewing them as feminine partners who deserve to be honored, for they are co-heirs with you of the “divine grace of life,” so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
This one is a really daunting idea to tackle, as it puts some of the effectiveness of our prayers completely on our own shoulders. According to Peter, it’s possible for the relationships that you have in the natural to impact the way that God hears your prayers in the supernatural.
While Peter focused on the relationship between a husband and wife, the principles of Peter’s words can apply to any relationship in your life. Peter said that husbands should treat their wives with tenderness, honor, and equality. Those three guiding forces are three of the most important aspects of any healthy relationships.
When you treat someone with tenderness, you’re not quick to snap at them at the first sign of annoyance. It’s easy to let the stressors of daily life cause us to forget tenderness, but that’s not the sign of a true believer in Christ. Additionally, Peter said that we should honor others. Honoring someone means that you put their wants and needs ahead of your own. If you’re married, as the people Peter was writing to were, this means that you prioritize your spouse’s happiness over your own. Finally, he said that we should treat our spouses as a “co-heir.” This simply means that we view others as our equal within the Kingdom of God.
If your prayers aren’t being answered, spend some time evaluating your relationships with others. When our relationships with others are broken, this passage teaches us that our prayers may be hindered as a result.
Are You Caring for Others?
Proverbs 21:13 (TPT)
If you close your heart to the cries of the poor, then I’ll close my ears when you cry out to me!
This verse is particularly difficult to tackle, in part because so many unscrupulous people have twisted its meaning over the years in the name of manipulating God’s people into giving them money. Before we go into this, we do no need to clear up multiple possible misconceptions. First of all, no one is saying that it’s wrong to give money to your local church or other ministries that you support. Secondly, this verse does not in any way indicate that we can bribe God into answering our prayers. Last, but certainly not least, this verse does not teach us that there is a certain amount that we have to give to open the ears of God.
Now that we’ve got all of that cleared up, we can dive into the true heart of this verse. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived was blessed with great wealth in addition to his wisdom. He knew a lot about the two things that are the primary focus of this verse: material wealth and prayer.
However, this verse isn’t as much about money as it is about the condition of your heart. God didn’t tell Solomon, “If you close your wallet to the cries of the poor, then I’ll close my ears when you cry out to me.” Instead, God said that the condition that He was discussing in this verse was the condition of the heart. However, the way that we help others, whether it be with our finances or through another method, God wants us to have our heart open toward others.
Yes, we should help people materialistically when we can, but sometimes we can do things that go beyond handing someone money. For instance, what if you can help someone who is down on their luck get a job with a company you work for? What if you have some items in your home that could benefit a family who has nothing?
If your prayers aren’t being answered, evaluate how open you are to helping others.
A Closing Prayer:
God, show me why my prayers aren’t being answered. I want to make the changes necessary to unblock the lines of communication from me to You. In Christ’s name, Amen.