Unanswered Prayers


One of the most frustrating part about being a Christian and praying is when our prayers seem to go unanswered, this can be so discouraging and often can leave us wondering if God is actually listening to our prayers in the first place. We read repeatedly throughout the Scriptures that God promises to hear our prayers, but we often forget to notice or accept the Scriptures which speak about the terms and conditions of our prayers.

There are a few reasons why our prayers may not be answered

1. This may sound obvious but maybe you haven’t asked.

‘You do not have because you do not ask God.’ James 4:2

I know this is obvious but there are times when God actually wants us to speak to Him and specifically ask Him. Yes, God knows what we’re going to say before we actually say it, but we must ask Him, we must verbalise our request to Him. This could be a reason why God doesn’t answer our prayers, simply because we don’t ask.

2. Intentional sinning.

‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.’ Psalm 66:18

‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.’ James 4:3

Let’s be honest we all sin and we all struggle with it, but there’s a massive difference between struggling with sin and intentionally getting involved with it. If you’re a lover of money for example, and your praying for God to help you with your finances but in your heart, you want to use those finances for your own selfish reasons, this may be a reason why your prayers aren’t being answered.

If we pray for anything which will encourage us to sin more, and love sin more, then we can sure those prayers won’t be answered.

3. All mouth and no ears.

‘For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ Matthew 13:14-15

Some people really have a problem listening, all they seem to do is talk, at times they actually talk at you rather than with you. As Christians God’s Word should be on our minds all the time, and when we read His word, we need to listen to what He has to say to us. Sometimes we get so focused on how we think God should answer our prayer, that we miss how He is actually answering our prayer.

Think about it, it’s pretty difficult to know what God is saying if we neglect to read His Word. He speaks to us through Bible studies, sermons, the songs we sing, but if you aren’t around when these things happen, how can you know what God is saying? These are the ways God regularly speaks to us and maybe God has already answered your prayer, but you haven’t listened for the answer.

4. Lack of faith.

‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6

‘Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’ John 14:12-14

Although these words of Jesus are directly speaking to the apostles, we can learn some basic principles from His words. Since Jesus is the Way, we learn that it’s only through Jesus Christ we have access to the Father.

Notice we have access to the Father, we’re not praying to some unknown God whose out of reach, He’s our Father and Jesus asks us to pray in His name. Maybe some prayers aren’t being answered because they aren’t prayed in Jesus Name.

5. My will, not Thy will.

‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Matthew 6:10

‘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 of him.’ 1 John 5:14-15

Let’s be honest, sometimes we pray for the wrong things. Even though it may be unintentional, we often ask for things that will increase our comfort and could harm our relationship with the Lord. That new job might pay more money and help us to better provide for our family, but it may require us to work extra hours which could cut into our family time. The increased earnings and security could also cause us to rely less on God, thinking that we’re in total control of our lives.

How do we know what God’s will is?

We read His Word, Romans 12:1-2, and we speak to mature Christians. We know that God wants us to grow as Christians so praying for your own spiritual growth is in accordance with His will. We know that He hates sin, and so praying for Him to give you the strength to stop sinning is in accordance with His will. Praying in accordance with God’s will is about requesting things in prayer which are in tune with what God wants for us, things that God knows will help us, encourage us and strengthen us.

Maybe the reason our prayers don’t get answered is because we’re praying for our greed’s instead of our needs, maybe the things we’re asking for may harm us in some away or tempt us to leave God, maybe we’re praying that our will be done and not His.

What about if you plan to get a new job and three jobs are offered to you, which one do you take? If you choose one job over the other two, how do you know if this is God’s will?

The truth is you don’t know, half the time we choose the direction we want to go in anyway because that’s the direction we really want to go in and then we try and justify the decision by saying ‘this was God’s will’ but if things go wrong we say, ‘maybe this wasn’t God’s will’, James 4:13-15. We need to understand that God will always let us make the decision but will bless our decision if we’re still putting Him first in our lives.

6. Be patient.

‘How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?’ Psalm 13:1-2

‘They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.’ Revelation 6:10-11

Ah, patience, there’s a word we don’t like sometimes, especially in today’s society where is everything is at the push of a button, fast food and we want everything now. There are times when we pray, and they seem to go unanswered, but we need to trust that God may well be working on it, but the time isn’t right, ‘right now’.

Just because there’s no immediate answer to our prayers, doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening and working on it and preparing you in some way or others around you. God has a plan for each of us, but it will happen on his timetable not ours.

As Christians we need to admit that we don’t see the big picture like God does, and He always knows what’s best for us and for those around us. He also has a plan for our lives and that often involves doing things that we’d rather not do.


‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ Luke 22:42

When we pray it’s important to remember that God loves us, and He knows what we need more than we do, He knows our heart’s desires, He knows our best interests, but we should also remember that He isn’t some kind of fast food restaurant, where we put our orders in and He keeps dishing our prayers requests out.

We should never stop asking, but at the same time, we should always be open to His answer. Look at Jesus’ prayer on the night before He died, He prayed for His needs but was open to the answer. Although it’s difficult to accept, we need to trust that God always has a reason for saying ‘no’ to our requests.



"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

Acts 18:11