Some days back, I had had a conversation with a friend who said she always felt as though God doesn’t answer her prayers. She said that when it came to the prayer requests like “wake me up tomorrow morning Lord as I sleep tonight” He answered but, when it came to others like “help me pass this test with an A, Lord” He seemed to neglect those ones. I laughed it off and told her that where there’s life, there’s hope and she should be grateful that He woke her up. And I know that she’s not the only one who has this thought at the back of her mind. I know she is not the only one who’s thinking “why is God not hearing my prayers?”.
But then, are there really prayers God leaves unanswered? If so, why?
Lack of faith is probably the most prominent reason as to why some prayers go ‘unanswered’. Apart from praise and dedication, one of the things that moves God the most is faith. Amongst all the people Jesus healed in the Bible, not a single one of them was denied their miracle and not a single one of them was without faith. In Matthew 8: 5-13, we see the story of the Roman officer who “incensed” Jesus with his faith. It’s so funny how a person could get on his knees for long hours praying for a particular thing and then doubt its possibility the moment he says “in Jesus name I have prayed”. Do you not know that when you doubt the possibility of a prayer coming to pass you doubt God’s ability to bring it to pass? If you lack faith, it means you don’t believe God when He says He’d do just what He says He’d do. The bible says in Matthew 21:22 that “ and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith”. You would receive if you have faith…that is, your ability to receive, is dependent on your ability to have faith.
“But I had faith, I believed so much in God’s ability to make my prayers come to pass yet I got no answer”. This could be you, and yes having faith is very key but there is something more impending than it, and it is God’s will. Your faith might be great but if your request is not in accordance with the will of God, it might not come to pass. God never leaves the prayers of His own unanswered…He said when we pray to Him, He’d hear our voice (Jeremiah 29:12 AMP). But if your prayer point is opposing God’s will for your life, He’d tell you no (remember no is also an answer). God sees farther than we see, He knows what our next 10 years would look like…we humans aren’t even in the slightest way aware of our tomorrow…Jeremiah 29: 11 AMP says “‘for I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” So if your prayer request is contrary to the perfect plan God has for you, be sure that what you want, isn’t what you’ll get. I remember a time in my life when I wanted something so bad and I feared that it might not be in God’s will for me but I still went ahead to pray that God’s will would tally with my prayer request (instead of the other way round LOL) and obviously, God didn’t answer that prayer because it simply went against His will. Jesus Christ also, when He was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, (Matthew 26:42; Luke 22:42) had submitted to the will of the Father. Understanding the importance of God’s will (which also includes His timing) is an important factor in getting answered prayers. Not aligning our prayer according to God’s will would surely bring no result.
Someone said, to men, actions speak louder than words but to God, motive speaks louder than actions, and I couldn’t agree more! Are you praying to God for that car because you want to show off to your friends that you’re now a big boy or are you praying for it because you sincerely need it? Are you praying to God to fill you up because you truly want more of Him or is it because being spiritual is the new cool? What exactly are your intents, what are your motives when you pray? Hebrews 4: 12 tells us that the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. So God sees your intentions when you pray, He sees how your heart is harbouring plans on how to ‘pepper’ all those people who left you at your down times even when your face is showing humility and your tongue uses meek words like “God please bless me and elevate me”. James said in James 4:3 NIV that, when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. God won’t answer prayers backed up by wrong intentions and not until we have the right motives for asking from God, we won’t receive from Him.
Some prayers are only answered after an extra action is taken. In Matthew 17, the disciples of Jesus had been trying to cast out a demon but to no avail. However, when Jesus got to the scene, He cast it out without breaking a sweat and they wondered as to why they couldn’t do the same. He replied them in verse 21 that such kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. This then made me realise that there is a place for fasting in having our prayers answered. Sometimes, we just need to take it a bit further by backing it up with fasting. Also, some certain prayers remain unanswered because certain actions aren’t taken. For example, a person who is praying for an A in a test but isn’t working for an A cannot expect God to give him an A…ko balance now (LOL). James 2: 26 says that faith without works, is dead. Action must be actively applied to a prayer of faith, in order to see results.
Finally, prayer is in fact, a dialogue. It is a communication between God and His own. The answer to some of our prayers and requests are given to us during the prayer. I watched a funny video where the girl was asking God for something and before her reply from God could come, she’d block her ears and then just after He was done talking she would complain of how she didn’t hear anything. It was funny to watch but it is the truth. Some of us have our ears blocked when God is telling us what we need to know, when He is answering our prayers, and then we wonder why it’s like He doesn’t listen to us. The Word of God also contains answers to our questions and requests but how many of us actually study it? How often do we try to actually get answers? So long as the answer to our prayers lie in the word of God, and we refuse to study the Word, our prayers would seem to us as if they were unanswered.
So, my reply to my friend’s statement is, God would not ignore some prayers and answer some just because He feels like it or because it’s like a fun game to Him. It is just that there are certain criteria we ought to meet up with, in order for us to have our prayers answered. God would always answer the prayers of those who are His, who are praying according to His will, with good intents backed up by faith.
P.S: Tarrying in prayer is also key. Sometimes, God just wants us to tarry in prayer. 1Thessalonians 5:17; Pray without ceasing.