Why aren't my prayers answered?

See this page in: Dutch, Bulgarian, Indonesian

Is all prayer answered? Scripture teaches that God does answer our prayers (John 16:24); but Scripture also says that there are some conditions for effective prayer. What are some reasons the Bible gives for God not answering our prayers?

  1. Woman praying. Photo copyrighted.

    We don’t really believe God can answer them.
    Jesus said:

    “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

    James wrote:

    “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does” (James 1:6-8).

    Believing is perhaps the best known condition for prayer. But there are other reasons prayer is not answered.

  2. We ask with wrong motives.

    “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).

  3. Unconfessed sin separates us from God, so that He will not hear.

    “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities (sins) have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2).

  4. We set up idols in our hearts that come between us and God.

    “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?” (Ezekiel 14:3).

  5. We don't answer those who cry to us for help.

    “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).

  6. We don't remain in God/God's Word doesn't remain in us.

    “If you remain in me and my word remains in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you” (John 15:7).

What does God always promise to give to those who believe?

  1. Salvation

    “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

  2. Forgiveness of Sins

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

  3. Wisdom

    “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Most importantly, we must belong to God before we can communicate with God. “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:47).

Sometimes we don't see or understand God's answers.

God is all-knowing and can see things that we can't. The Bible tells us to trust God, rather than our own understanding of what's best for us:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Bible also says that God works in ways that we sometimes can't understand:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declared the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us that now we see things dimly, as in a mirror, but someday we will see clearly and understand how God answered our prayers.

More information

Author: Dawson McAllister of Dawson McAllister Live!

Copyright © 1997, Dawson McAllister Live!, All Rights Reserved—except as noted on attached “Usage and Copyright” page that grants ChristianAnswers.Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools.

Dawson McAllister Live!

Go to index page