When Your Prayers Don't Get Answered
"You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."1
A Daily Encounter subscriber writes: "Devotions like this instill hope that God is, yet being the doubting Thomas that I am, I struggle with doubts. I see many things going wrong in my life but my prayers never seem to be answered. I feel that they fall on deaf ears, and I have come to the conclusion that if the power of prayer was effective today, there would be less death, sickness and turmoil. I struggle with it all."
Dear James, thank you for sharing your struggles regarding prayer. I agree with you in that sometimes it can be difficult to understand why prayers for some people get answered, while for others they never seem to be answered.
The fact is that sometimes God answers, "Yes" to our requests. Sometimes he answers, "No," and sometimes it's, "Wait a while." Other times our prayers don't get answered because we are praying the wrong prayer. As today's Scripture reminds us, sometimes we pray with the wrong motives.
Furthermore, some prayers don't get answered because we may be focusing on the symptoms of our problems, rather than facing and dealing with the deeper cause or causes. For instance, there's no point in praying for healing from ulcers if they are caused by an overload of stress caused by unresolved personal problems. Also, no point in praying for deliverance from alcoholism unless we face and deal with the deeper cause or causes. In most of these cases the ulcers and the alcoholism are symptoms of deeper problems—often in the subconscious mind.
When praying about any problem or situation, to ensure that our prayers will be heard and answered by God, we need, first of all, to pray in Jesus' name, as it is only through Him that we can come to God. Jesus Said, "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."3
Second, we also need to pray "in truth." God's Word says that "The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth."2 That is, we need to be ruthlessly honest, first with ourselves, and then with God asking Him to confront us with the truth of what we may be contributing to the symptoms we are struggling with; to give us the courage to face and deal with any deeper cause/s; and to lead us to find the help we need to resolve the cause/s.
Third, we need to pray believing. Faith, too, is essential for effective prayer. As Jesus said, "All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive,"4 and "according to your faith will it be done to you."5
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for the wonderful privilege You have given to all mankind in that we can always come to You in prayer through Jesus Christ Your Son and our Lord. Please help me to always pray 'in truth' and always be honest with myself and with You, pray with pure motives, and always pray in harmony with Your Word and Your will, so that I will be sure that You will hear and answer my prayers. Thank You for hearing and answering this prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
NOTE: For further help see the article, "How to Get Prayer Answered." It's at: http://tinyurl.com/positive-praying. please take time to read it. I trust it will be of help.
1. James 4:3 (NKJV)
2. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).
3. John 14:13-15 (NIV).
4. Matthew 21:22 (NIV).
5. Matthew 9:29 (NIV).