Why are some prayers not heard by God?
Why does God sometimes not answer our prayers?
The Bible says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 Jn 5:14). From these words, we understand that one reason for unanswered prayers is their non-compliance with God’s will. In the Bible, we see such examples: Paul asked the Lord on three occasions to remove the “thorn in the flesh…a messenger of Satan” (2 Cor 12:7–8), but God chose not answer his prayer in order to keep him from pride and conceit (2 Cor 12:7–8); Moses asked God to let him cross the Jordan to see Canaan, but God would not permit it on account of his earlier disobedience (Deut 3:25–27; Num 20:12; 27:12–14).
Other reasons for unanswered prayers may include God’s timing (Eccl 3:1) and His desire to train up our faith (Lk 18:1; Rom 12:12). Furthermore, the Bible reminds us to keep watch over the condition of our heart, for God will reject our prayers if we exhibit shortcomings.
Whose prayers are not heard by God?
1. Insincerity (Mt 15:8–9)
2. Hypocrisy (Mt 6:5)
3. Pride and self-righteousness ( Job 35:12; Lk 18:9–14)
4. Lack of forgiveness (Mt 5:23–24; 6:14–15)
5. Doubt ( Jas 1:6–8)
6. Selfish motives ( Jas 4:3)
7. Sin and unrighteousness (Ps 66:18; Jn 9:31; 1 Pet 3:12)
Whose prayers are heard by God?
An effective prayer is the result of faith. Elder James says:
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double- minded man, unstable in all his ways”
The writer of Hebrews adds, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Also, Jesus offers us this encouragement: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mk 11:24).
1. The righteous. The Bible shows us that God answers the prayers of those who are righteous (Jas 5:16); humble and penitent (Lk 18: 13–14); pure in heart (Mt 5:8; 2 Tim 2:22); devout and God-fearing (Acts 10:1–4); sincere (1 Sam 1:10–18); careful to keep His commandments (Lk 1:6, 13).
2. Some modes of prayer. From the Bible, we see people praying in different ways: sitting down (2 Sam 7:18); standing (Lk 18:13); kneeling (Acts 20:36); falling prostrate (Mt 26:39); with lifted hands (1 Tim 2:8); looking up to heaven (Jn 11:41); with raised voice (Ezek 11:13; Acts 4:24); in silence (1 Sam 1:13); with tears (Heb 5:7); beating the breast (Lk 18:13); with joy (Lk 10:21). Whichever way we pray, it is important that we are motivated by sincerity and devotion to God. This is because Jesus says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” ( Jn 4:24).
3. Prayer with Fasting. Fasting prayers are for those occasions when we need to devote ourselves to prayer, or to petition God for help. They enable us to focus on God and to humble ourselves (Ps 35:13). People fast and pray for different reasons: some do it in the face of specific difficulties or challenges; others, when they need special power from God. Before Jesus started His ministry, He fasted for forty days and nights to prepare Himself (Lk 4:1–2). The outcome was that He was able to overcome the temptation of the devil and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of the heavenly Father (Lk 4:13–14).
4. Those in right conditions for prayers. It is helpful to set aside a time and place for prayer. Firstly, we need to find somewhere quiet so that we can concentrate. We note that Jesus did exactly this: He habitually withdrew into the wilderness to pray (Lk 5:16). The purpose of a peaceful environment is to create the right conditions within our heart, such as inner quietness and devotion. Secondly, we need to endeavour to pray at least three times a day (Ps 55:17; Dan 6:10). But, where necessary, we can pray anywhere—a silent prayer on the way to work or college, or a short prayer when we need God’s guidance, or simply to give thanks.
Furthermore, Paul encourages us to pray in the Spirit: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). When we pray in the Spirit, He intercedes for us in spiritual tongues that transcend the limitations of human language:
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God”
In short, when we pray in tongues, we have the confidence that the Holy Spirit is interceding for us according to the will of God.
Prayers are Christians’ resistance against Satan. Jesus’ three prayers in Gethsemane were three defence lines against the weaknesses of the flesh. Being watchful in prayer, leads to a complete victory.
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