Unanswered Prayers: The Most Common Reasons Why
S. L. Summers
One of the greatest benefits afforded to every Christian is the privilege of answered prayers. In the Bible, Jesus made this tremendous promise, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matt. 21:22). However, despite the Lord’s willingness to answer prayer, it is obvious that some prayers have gone unanswered. Why is this? The following are the most common reasons why some prayers do not get results:
1. Lack of Fellowship with God and His Word – John 15:7
Unanswered prayers are sometimes a result of absence from fellowship with the Lord and His Word. Jesus promised that if we would remain in His fellowship, and allow His Word to remain in us, this would produce results in prayer.
2. Not Seeking to Please the Lord – 1 John 3:22
Answers to prayer come when we seek to keep His commandments and please the Lord with our life. Keeping His commandments and pleasing the Lord is a product of our obedience to His word. (James 2:20). Lack of love, bitterness and unforgiveness is the root of many unanswered prayers, since faith works by love (Gal. 5:6).
3. Unconfessed Sin in One’s Life – 1 Peter 3:12
There is no doubt that sin will disrupt the flow of God’s blessings and answers to prayer. All acts of rebellion and disobedience to God are considered sin. Sins of “commission,” are those overt acts which are done in disobedience. However, sins of “omission,” are those things we don’t do in obedience, but know we should (James 4:17). The remedy for all sin is to confess it to God, forsake it, and ask Him to forgive you (1 John 1:9).
4. Improper Motives – James 4:3
Our motives in our prayer requests are of concern to the Lord. He wishes to help us in our time of need, but is not obligated to answer prayers which will merely feed our carnal, worldly appetites and (lustful) pleasures. Our motives and desires can be corrected by humbling ourselves, and drawing near to God (James 4:8-10).
5. Not Asking in God’s Will -1 John 5:14-15
God will only answer those prayers that are in “His” will. When we ask anything that is in His will, we can have assurance that those requests are granted to us. God’s will is revealed through His Word, the Bible. Anything promised by His Word is His will, and we can be confident that He’ll honor our prayers based on His Word.
6. Don’t Know Now to Pray – Luke 11:1
Some lack effectiveness in prayer simply because they don’t know what the scriptures teach about prayer. Jesus gave His disciples an outline for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Take the time to study it. Other passages teach that prayer is primarily to be a private, intimate time with the Lord (Matt. 6:6); to be intermingled with praise and thanksgiving (Acts 16:25, Phil. 4:6). Times of fasting with prayer are beneficial to strengthen our faith and power in prayer (Acts 14:23, 1 Cor. 7:5). Jesus often went to secluded places to spend prolonged periods in prayer (Luke 6:12, Matt. 4:2).
7. Lack of Faith – Hebrews 11:6
We cannot please God without faith. Prayer is not merely “begging” from God. It is “believing” God and His Word! Faith will come forth and grow as we devote our attention to the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Our faith can also be “built up,” by praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
8. Misunderstanding of Faith – Mark 11:24
Jesus said that “when” you pray, you must believe that you “receive” your answer at that moment. The word, “receive” comes from the Greek word, LAMBANO, which means to receive now” (present tense). He then says we will “have” them. “Have” comes from, ESOMAI, which means to possess later” (future tense). So, when we pray we must believe in the finished results of our prayer, and we will eventually experience the tangible results sometime later.
9. Wavering Faith – James 1:6-7
There are those who allow every “wind” of feelings or circumstances to influence or discourage their faith. They rock back and forth, like the waves tossed about in the sea. One day they believe, but the next, they’re ready to give up. Such persons usually base their faith on their feelings or emotions instead of God’s Word. Those who waver in their faith cannot expect to receive “anything of the Lord.” Our faith must become stable, steadfast, and consistent to receive from God.
10. Failure to Apply Spiritual Authority – Mark 11:23
There are times that some prayers may not get for until we use the spoken authority of the name of Jesus. The reason for this is that the problems we face may “sometimes” be a product of an evil spiritual origin this age. In such cases, our prayers may need to engage in what we call “spiritual warfare” to obtain results.
11. Lack of Perseverance – Galatians 6:9
Probably the greatest reason that some prayers go unanswered is because many give-up praying and believing before they receive their answer. As long as we have the promise of God’s Word, be patient and persistent – keep believing – don’t quit, no matter how long it takes! God has a “due season” when He will bring the answer to pass.
This article “Unanswered Prayers: The Most Common Reasons Why” by S. L. Summers was excerpted from: www.wnop.org web site. January 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”