There seem to be as many palliative explanations for unanswered prayers as there are prayers. I’m sure you’ve heard the typical: “God always answers prayer, but his answer may be ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘later’……”
There are other reasons given in the Bible. One is: God simply refuses to hear us!!
Isaiah 1:15 “And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear…”
Habakkuk 1:2 “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?”
Yes, this is the God of the Old Testament, but remember, He is never changing, and He is also the God of the New Testament. The reasons here for unanswered prayer are all from the Bible, but are not widely taught and certainly not preached from the pulpit; for as the disciples say in John 6:60 “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
But this is not what God wants. He wants to have a personal relationship with us, not hide his face from us! First of all, God is just and is as tied by the words He speaks as we are. Indeed, He honours his Word above his name (Psalm 138:2). The enemy uses this to his advantage and through our transgressions against the Word of the Lord, he claims his rights on us. But the Lord is also Love and he gave us a solution to the claims of the enemy, His Son, Jesus Christ, whom he gave as a propitiative sacrifice. As Jesus was nailed to a tree, became a curse so that we may be redeemed by His blood; so we may be forgiven; so we may be set free!
As you read the following verses, please do so prayerfully. Check out the Bible quotations for they contain much more that cited here and see how they apply to your life. Take written notes of the memories which these verses and the Holy Spirit bring to mind and then follow the steps at the end to repent of all transgressions.
As you read these passages, you will say, “but I have not killed anyone!!” But if you have been involved in any way with abortion, you have, for as Matthew 5:22 says “whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire”. Jesus sets the bar high. We need to repent and accept His grace.
Let’s look at what other Bible verses give insights into reasons for unanswered prayer.
If we do not honour our parents:
Exodus 20:12 implores us to “Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which Jehovah your God gives you”. If we honour or parents, the Lord may bless us to live long.
If we are living under the iniquity of our ancestors:
Numbers 14:18 reminds us “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Living under such iniquity may block the fulfilment of certain prayers. Generational curses and ungodly soul-ties must be broken and deliverance received.
If we pray a vain, a hollow, or a heartless prayer:
Job 35:13 “Surely God does not hear an empty cry, nor does the Almighty regard it.” Thought they cry, they cry from their oppressions, but cry not to God.
If we have indulged in the sin in ourselves and in our hearts:
Psalms 66:18 “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
If we refuse to hear the Word of the Lord:
Proverbs 28:9 “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
If we fast for the wrong reasons and in the wrong ways:
Isaiah 58:5 “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?” If we fast correctly and for the right reasons we will be blessed as promised in v11 for “the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire…..” If we do otherwise, we will be unsatisfied.
If we live in iniquity:
Isaiah 59:1-3 “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.”
If we do not give justice; if we oppress foreigners, or the fatherless, or widows or shed innocent blood:
For Jeremiah 7:5-7 says “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.”
If we steal; we murder; we commit adultery; we swear falsely; we trust in other gods (including gods our own making):
Jeremiah 7:9&10 – the Lord asks us “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?” and the Lord speaks in v16 saying “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.”
There is a lot more to learn from Jeremiah 7.
If we are living in growing iniquity:
Jeremiah 14:12a – “Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them..” The Lord determined that they had reached the full limit of their iniquity and acted.
If we decorate with things abominable to God and/or worship them:
If we make our own false gods:
Ezekiel 8:10, 11, 16 & 18 says “And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, …… Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up.” v16 “…….And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men………. worshiping the sun toward the east.” v18 “Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.“
If we do not forgive others:
In Matthew 6:12 we are told to “forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors”. If we do not forgive others, the Lord may not hear us and may not forgive us.
If we are unequally yoked to a non-Christian:
2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
If we do not pray for our leaders and government:
1 Timothy 2:1-3 tell us “First of all, then, I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence.” If we do not pray for our leaders and government, the Lord may not grant us a peaceful life.
If we are lazy:
Hebrews 6:12 reads “so that you may not be sluggish” and is conditioned in v12 for then, “Surely I will bless you.” i.e. if we are sluggish, we will not be blessed.
If we ask for the wrong reasons:
James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Pretty self explanatory.
Before we look to the Lord and to our Pastors and Teachers for reasons why some prayers apparently go unanswered:
- Let us look first at ourselves.
- Let us pray humbly and sacrifice to the Lord a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart, for these, He will not despise.
- Let us seek the communion of saints with whom to work out a full and earnest repentance.
- Let us work with the Lord to forgive those who require forgiveness, that we may in turn receive full deliverance and forgiveness.
- Let us honour our parents, be they still living, or not.
- Let us break all generational bondage, ungodly soul ties and end all these with us, not passing to our descendants.
- Let us clean our houses, offices and lives of objects which are abominable to the Lord.
- Let us have no other gods (including self made gods like mammon [money], job, status, house, family, children or idols or gods made by others) before The Lord God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
I pray that if you follow this, your answers to prayer may instead be YES, YES, YES.
But at this point, we need to remember that God does not need to explain His answers to us. Ours is to speak, to obey, to believe and to stand and the rest is up to Him, however He responds. Remember what Proverbs 3:5 teaches us, to “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.”
Amen and Amen!!