In Mark 12: 24, Jesus told his apostles, ” Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” If this is true, why do some of our prayers never seem to be answered? Using scripture as a guide, let’s examine why God might not be answering your prayers.
If we continue to read the next verse after Mark 12:24, it says: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that you Father in heaven may forgive your sins.” Oh! So, there are conditions for God to answer prayer. It makes sense that we need to confess our sins before we ask God for anything. We also need to thank him for what he has already given us. In Philippians 4, verse 6, it says not to worry about anything but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Think about it. When your child (or friend) asks for something are you more willing to give it to them if he/she is grateful for what you have already done for him? And if your child has been naughty or rude, would you reward him or her? Of course not! Why should God, who is control of all things, reward us when we are not being obedient?
Another reason we may be hindering our prayers is a lack of faith. James 1:6-7 says But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. You may think you do not have enough faith, but Jesus told us if we have the faith of a mustard seed our prayers will be answered. Luke 17:9 It is not easy to have faith, especially when we do not see immediate results. But faith is the assurance of what we hope for even though we cannot see the results, right away. Hebrews 11:1 You can trust God, our father, will answer our prayer at just the right time. If he doesn’t there may be other reasons that we don’t know about. James 4:3 tells us that Jesus told his disciples that their prayers were not being answered because they asked wrongly, meaning selfishly or that if the prayer was answered it would cause harm. Your child may want ice cream for dinner every night, but you wouldn’t allow it because it would be harmful to him.
Asking wrongly……hmm. You may have the best intentions, but our Father knows what we need even before we ask, and he may have something better for you than you can imagine. Matthew 6:8 It is my personal belief that God will not answer my prayer if it will hurt me or someone else, in the long run. However, sometimes God will give us something that is not the best if we keep hounding him for it. When you pray, ask God if it be “his will” so that the outcome is beneficial to you and others who may be affected.
How do we know what God’s will is? We will know what God’s will is by reading and studying his Word, daily. God desires to be close to you but you need to make the effort to be close to him by spending time in prayer and reading the Bible. John 15:7 says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Another way to know God’s will is to learn the 10 Commandments, listed in Exodus 20:2-17. The only way we can be obedient to God is to learn what he tells us to do to be safe and to live productive lives. 1John 3:22 tells us that if we keep God’s commands, we will receive what we ask. No child will know how to behave if no one teaches him how. The Commandments were given to Moses for the Israelites (and future believers) for us to follow so that our lives would reflect our faith in God, which is God the Father, Jesus, his son, and the Holy Spirit.
Maybe God has answered prayer for you without you doing any of these things. That is called grace or unmerited favor. Our Father in heaven loves us so much, he will often give us gifts we do not deserve. The most generous gift of all was giving his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins so that we would be able to go to heaven after our death. After that, he sent down the Holy Spirit to help the apostles continue Christ’s work and to dwell in every believer in Jesus Christ as God and Savior.
To summarize: Spend time with our Lord, daily. Confess your sins to him and forgive others so God can forgive you and answer your prayers. Trust and believe that God will answer your prayers if they are within his will. Learn more about Jesus and how marvelous God is by reading the Bible. Talk to God, throughout the day, asking the Holy Spirit to keep your thoughts and actions clean. Ask him for help anytime, night or day, at work or at play. He loves you and desires to spend time with you. And remember to thank him for all he does for you. Have you eaten lunch, today? Do you have a bed to sleep in and a warm house? Do you have a job or a family and friends? It is easy to take all this for granted but it can be taken away at a moment’s notice. Not to be fearful, but just be thankful to the one who has your best interest, always.