Why We Don’t Get Answers To Prayer
By Ronnie Wilhoit
The doors of a certain chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome are opened only once every twenty-five years. One can imagine the eager assembly of pilgrims as the opening time approaches in a place considered to be of special sanctity.
Suppose our prayers were heard once in a quarter of a century—twice in a lifetime. How eagerly we should anticipate the occasion and prepare for it! But because the door is always open, we fail to enter.
Too Busy To Visit The Throne Room
The King Himself extends the challenge to ‘come boldly to the throne of grace.” Think of it—a personal invitation to call on Royalty any time! Having a free ticket to the throne room, we are too busy to enter. Oh, the barrenness of busyness! Our lives are filled with all kinds of excuses for prayerlessness.
Susanna Wesley, busy mother of Charles Wesley, designed her own private “prayer closet.” When things got bad in her household—the children screaming, scarce money, leaky roof—she would reach down and grab the hem of her long skirt. Separating it from the many long petticoats women wore in those days, she pulled the outer skirt up over her head and closed herself in. There she met the Lord, communed with Him, and then returned to her hectic world, refreshed and revived.
Remember, He said, “They that wart upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Small wonder our prayers seem puny and weak.
The Throne Room Is Locked!
Nothing ties the hands of God like unbelief. One simple overlooked element of answered prayer is faith that God will execute His promises, that He loves us, and that He will look after us. Unfortunately, that kind of faith is becoming very rare.
“Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
Some have not because they ask not. Others have not because they believe not.
An old beggar in the Far East sat in the sunshine beside a gateway. Warm and comfortable, he fell asleep there, oblivious to a kindly disposed passer-by dropping a coin into his outstretched hand. Another pedestrian, with no honest scruples, soon discovered the ungrasped gift. Assuring himself that the old man would not miss some thing he never knew he had, this newcomer snatched the money and fled.
When the beggar awoke, he glanced toward the setting sun, and with a sigh for the unprofitable day, trudged wearily homeward.
Similarly, day by day we petition at Heaven’s gate. We want the things for which we ask, but we scarcely expect to receive them. The outstretched hands have become a matter of custom. We do not notice how often they are filled nor how swiftly and in what strange ways the answers often come. The granting of many petitions come easily within our reach, but listlessly we fail to recognize and grasp it.
Do you have that faith to unlock the throne room? Paul intones that we can “never please God without faith.” Anyone approaching God: must believe that He s and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Unlock the throne room with the key of faith to claim your reward. He’s ready for business!
Dirty Linen In The Throne Room
Perhaps the greatest single stumbling block to answered prayer is that most people are not living obediently. Isaiah summarized,
“Listen now! The Lord Isn’t too weak to save you. And He isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call! But the trouble is that your sins have cut you oft from God. Because of sin, He has turned His face away from you and will not listen anymore” (Isaiah 59:1-2 paraphrased).
How can I pray when I know I’ve failed God? The consciousness of recent sin can haunt the mind and cripple all confidence in prayer. “You’ve botched it up so badly, how can you expect to hear from God? You don’t deserve anything and He knows it. Forget it! Keep your dirty distance…”
We need to learn how to handle this guilt—the sense of having failed and thereby being disqualified for bold approach. Where can I hide my dirty linen when I want to come to the throne room?
Do not hide it! Openly spread it before God. Confession means: acknowledging exactly what we know to be so!
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mer cy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
It’s the time when we’re least inclined to approach, but it’s the time we’re most invited!
Welcome to the throne room. State your business!!!
Stranger In The Throne Room
Many Christians tuck away their “come-boldly to-the-throne” invitations for emergencies. When all else fails, call God.
That kind of praying makes you a stranger in the throne room—and God isn’t obligated to strangers.
The man who talks to God only in emergencies is like a ne’er-do-well son who writes home only when he is penniless.
Remember, God allows no drafts where there are no deposits. In prayer, we sometimes try to cash worthless checks. How would you classify someone who tried to cash a check on a non existent account? There’s a bad name for that kind of character.
Sure He says: “Ask what ye will and it shall be done”; but He also says, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you.”
“Abiding” in Him means, among other things, that we know Him—personally through daily con tact and conversation.
There is always a condition to be met before a Biblical promise can be realized. Heaven will never make payment on worthless checks. Just as the bank requires identification, God verifies our credentials. And checks from strangers will not be honored in the throne room.
Silence In The Throne Room
Repeatedly, He reminds, “Ask! ask! ask!” His ear is eager to hear our petition. His hand is out stretched to supply. But nothing happens. Why?
There is dead silence in the throne room. “Ye have not because ye ask not,” He explains to us.
His promise to answer is the most wonderful promise ever made to mankind. Yet most practically ignore it.
Consider that wonderful declaration of Paul:
“… for all things are yours: . . .And ye are Christ’s. . . “(I Corinthians 3:21, 23).
This verse seems so tragically untrue for most Christians. Yet all things ARE ours! We merely fail to possess our possessions.
In a certain cotton mill there is a sign on the wall of the workroom that reads: if your threads get tangled, call the foreman.”
One day a new worker got her threads tangled, and trying to disentangle them, she only made them worse. Then she called the foreman. He asked, “Have you tried to straighten this out?”
“Yes, “she said.
“But why did you not send for me according to instructions?”
“I did my best,” she defended.
“No,” the foreman replied. “Doing your best is calling for me!”
If we don’t call, He can’t answer. God will do no thing on earth except answer prayer. Prayer can change anything. With it, the impossible doesn’t exist. His is the power. Ours is the prayer. Without Him we cannot Without us, He will not!
Break the throne room silence! Walk right in and voice the needs and desires of your heart.
Right now, He’s listening!
Does He Always Answer?
Some people insist that answered prayer is ready a “lucky accident”—a mere “coincidence.” They question, “What about all the prayers that go unanswered? What about all the times when God does not intervene?”
Is there a reason—or reasons—for unanswered prayers?
Let’s face it. Most prayers do not seem to be answered. There are specific, credible reasons why many prayers don’t achieve instant results.
Sometimes a bridge falls, but does that suggest that the law of gravity has failed? When electric lights are short-circuited, does that mean that the law of electricity has failed? Sometimes a disciple betrays his Lord, but does that mean that the law of love has failed? Sometimes a prayer is not answered, but that does not mean that the power of prayer has failed!
The scientist does not quit when his lights are short-circuited, nor when the bridge falls. Then why should we?
First, let’s settle the fact. God always answers prayer. It may not seem like it. It may not be the answer we want—but He does answer in one of four ways:
When the idea is not right, God says, “No.”
Prayer is often answered when we think it is not “No” is just as much an answer as “Yes.” We may have ignorantly requested something God could not wisely and consistently give. In our Christian experience God sometimes closes doors for our good and the good of others. God answers all prayers, but He refuses our whims or mistaken re quests.
A battery of Scriptures clarify that some prayer requests will not be granted:
1 Requests of self-indulgence will not be honored.
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
2 Presumptuous attitudes in prayer will not be honored.
“And when his disciples, James and John, saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command tire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them… “(Luke 9:54-56).
3 Prayer offered from a disobedient heart wiil not even be heard.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalm 66:18).
4 Voicing prayer while tolerating Unforgiveness toward others blocks the provision of even our most basic needs.
“Give us this day our daily bread: And for give us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:11-12).
When we pray selfishly, it is like asking God to be selfish. Then there are times when we don’t pray honestly. God knows the desires of our hearts and we cannot play games with Him. And finally, “if we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us.” Our conscience will prevent God’s answer every time.
God often says, “No,” to many prayers—and we should be prepared for it. The possibility must be recognized similarly as that of a child. Despite his best behavior and for all his pleadings, his father at times must refuse him.
God grants His children answers far more often than not. When He says, “No,” it is because He wills to give something better.
When the timing is not right, God says, “Slow!” Imagine! If God answered every prayer at the snap of your fingers, He would become your servant, not your Master. God would be working for you instead of you working for Him.
He may delay the answer until you are fit to receive it. God’s delays are not denials. He does not explain why He sometimes delays the answer while at other times answers “before we call.”
Often a father instructs his child, “Wait till you are older or bigger or wiser or stronger.” Likewise, our heavenly Father may also say to us: “Wait.” Be advised that God never bestows tomorrow’s gift today.
A delayed answer to prayer is not unanswered prayer. Notice the difference between clamor and faith. God’s Word declares if we have patience, we will receive the reward. David confessed that God answered his prayer with a “Slow” sign:
“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
When you are not in right standing with God, He says, “Grow!” Have you ever met a parent who foolishly provided his child with every whim and desire he expressed? Have you seen a father give his baby boy a razor upon request because he hoped the boy would find it useful? No, he knows his son must GROW into manhood before the ra zor would be of any safe use.
The selfish Christian must grow in terms of consideration and compassion. The critical Christian must grow in tolerance and forgiveness. The negative Christian must grow in positive attitudes. The fearful Christian must grow in courage and confidence.
God sometimes answers by saying, “Grow up some. I can’t give you meat while you’re still drinking milk (Hebrews 5:12). When you are ready to receive, I’ll be ready to give.”
When everything is right, God says, “Go!” That’s when miracles happen! A lost son is restored at an altar of repentance! A hopeless addict is freed from his habit! Diseased tissue is erased and hopes for life and health are reborn!
The door to your dream suddenly swings open and there stands God saying, “Go!”
Would you like to see God work for you? You can. He loves you very dearly. He wants to help you. He wants to do great things for you. Just give Him a chance by telling Him your needs, your hopes, your dreams. Ask for specific blessings and watch them materialize.
Corrie Ten Boom relates: “Once when I was a little girl, I remember coming to my father with a broken doll. He was busy in the watch shop repairing clocks and watches, but he stopped what he was doing and took special pains to fix my ragged old doll’s broken arm. Why did he take this so seriously? Because he saw the doll through the eyes of his little girl.”
Your heavenly Father loves you and He sees your problem through your eyes. That’s a true picture of our Father when we bring Him our needs.
Pray according to the instructions, and the green light will flash God’s answer to you!
Article “Why We Don’t Get Answers To Prayer” written by Ronnie Wilhoit is taken from an Unknown Source.
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.”