Often we are in a state of confusion about praying. We pray constantly for something to happen, or to be given or relieved of something but the answers don’t seem forthcoming;
“I keep praying and God is not answering my prayers” is a common theme among growing Christians, and it’s vital that this is addressed because for some, it turns them away from God because of their misunderstanding of what to pray for & how to pray to God for the answer we desire.
Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring [it] to pass. Psalm 37 vs 4, 5
Firstly, let’s remember that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14 vs 33). He has guidelines that he has given us and should we stick to, so we can have the desires of our hearts.
On the same breath, desires of the hearts of a Christian are different from those of a non-believer. As a Christian, your life should already be guided by the Holy Spirit thus your desires will naturally conform with the fruits of the Spirit.
So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10 vs 17
Secondly, we need to understand that the Bible is the word of God. That means, take the Bible as if God Himself is speaking to you, because that’s what it means when we say the Bible is the word of God.
Before cellphones existed, we used to communicate via postal letters when apart. A ‘love letter’ was always cherished, read and re-read all over with all nuances, words, punctuation and even the scent of the page repeatedly engrossed as if the author was present in the flesh. In no less terms, so should the Bible be to Christians.
It’s our love letter from God
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways. James 1 vs 6-8
Thirdly, once we understand that the Bible is the literal word of God, then we have the basis of our faith, because we know that without faith we can never have what we need from God (Hebrews 11 vs 6).
Faith is proof. Without faith, there is no proof and without that proof, how can you expect to receive from God something you are not sure that God is capable to give you?
That said, let’s look at reasons why prayers are not answered:
1. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John 16 vs 22-24
– Notice here that firstly, Jesus is saying you will have problems and will be in need until He comes again, and when He comes again, you will not ask Him anything. You will have everything you need when He comes again.
As long as we are on earth, we will have to ask for what we need. It proves our inability to sustain ourselves
– That said, Jesus clearly says “whatsoever you ask” meaning anything you ask in His name, he will give.
Jesus never lies
2. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5 vs 14, 15
– This is further clarity on what to ask, according to his will. If you ask for something that is not according to God’s will, you won’t receive it.
– Someone will ask, “How do I know God’s will?” You need to ask yourself, does God take pleasure in suffering? Is it His will that I should lack a need forever? If your answer is no, then you know his will is for you to be happy, not suffer.
– Also, His will can never contradict His law. God is a reader of both actions and motives; don’t expect Him to grant you something that your motives or actions are against His commandments
3. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses; know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4 vs 3, 4
– As long as your prayers are for selfish motives, driven by pride hidden in your heart, God will not answer them.
– Ask with the right motives, and with a totally clear conscience, and God will answer
4. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4 vs 6
– Other versions start this verse with “don’t be anxious” in place of “Be careful…”
– Notice that there is a process here: you first need to pray (ask) with supplication (fasting) then give thanks because you know God has said yes. (faith in action)
– Once you know God has said yes, you know you will receive it. With that thanksgiving, you will have the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding”.
This is the same peace that had Jesus asleep when the disciples thought they were going to drown during that storm. He was sure the winds & waves would stop, so He was sleeping. That is the kind of peace that nobody understands (surpasses all understanding)
5. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer [shall be] abomination.
Proverbs 28 vs 9
– As long as you refuse to hear and abide by the law of God, your prayers are not only avoided but they are an abomination;
– Abomination also means disgrace
6. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear [me: Psalm 66 vs 18
– If you knowingly condone sin, whether it’s happening to you or to someone else, and you don’t correct them, you ‘regard iniquity in your heart’ and thus should forget about God answering your prayers.
7. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven… 2 Chronicles 7 vs 14
– What is to “turn from their wicked ways” if not to obey the commandments of God?
Lastly, don’t forget that even though God could’ve created the world in 1 day, he took time (for reasons best known to him) and there was a process involved, with the creation of man coming on the 6thday.
Likewise, when you pray, God has a process and he answers in that process. It can be immediate or it can mean you wait a little while he’s “preparing you” to receive the answer to your prayers. Be patient, in faith, as God is patient in forgiving your daily sins.
He is faithful, and will deliver you when it’s the right time. He created you so he knows when the right time is for you.
Keep praying, don’t give up