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Why Isn't God Answering My Prayers?
by Dr. Chas Brothers
2/11/2010 / Self Help
Does God hear my prayers? If He doesn't, what must I do? If He does, why isn't He answering me?
My youth was filled with violence and abuse so I never really prayed all that much unless of course I needed something. I would call upon God for some sort of favor or if I had a specific need to be filled. When I prayed, there were always conditions offered like You give me this and I'll give up doing this or that.
Or, You owe me this for putting up with everything You've been putting me through. Through it all, I knew God was still looking out for me and taking care of me. I didn't know how or why; but I just knew.
Even without any formal tutoring or training, I spoke to God during the few moments of quiet I would get and then, I would pray to Him as though we were the best of friends. I had no idea at the time that that was what He wanted all along.
Everyone wonders does God hear my prayers and if He does, why do bad things keep happening? You say you've prayed and prayed and prayed yet God isn't answering why not? There may be several reasons why so let's get busy and start answering those questions.
CRITERIA FOR GOD TO HEAR AND ANSWER PRAYER
The first thing we must realize about God is that one of His attributes is that He's omniscience which means He knows everything past, present, and future, He knows.
I've known many people who are great speakers and can deliver the gospel with great might yet had trouble praying in a group or fumbled with what to say. I was the same way until I learned from God's great word to not be anxious and to wait upon the Holy Spirit for the quote/unquote right words.
Fortunately for me I had great Teachers that were much more patient with me than any earthly teachers I had ever known. Jesus in His many parables teaches all of us the proper way to not only pray but how to be sure our prayers are heard.
In the gospel of Luke, 18:9-14, Jesus cautioned against trusting in yourself as being righteous while treating others with contempt while at the same time instilling the idea of lofty, wordy prayers as disrespecting to God. He says "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax gatherer. "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, God I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax gatherer. "I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get. "But the tax gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, the sinner!"
With this statement Jesus then drove His point home in verse 14 by stating; "I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
And this is where life changing prayer begins. Dr. Charles F. Stanley, pastor of the 1st Baptist Church of Atlanta puts it this way; "we are strongest and tallest when we are on our knees." And God's people said AMEN!
Proper communication with God is essential and we need to remember just a few things about being in the flesh. Proverbs 18:21 warns us that "The tongue has the power of life and death" and again in Proverbs 17:28 that "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue"
"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Be wary my friend in your words and choose them carefully. Do not let a loose or an otherwise evil tongue send you to hell by your own conviction!
If we want our prayers heard we must also believe that they will be heard just on faith alone. In Romans 14:23 we are told that "Everything that does not come from faith is sin." Faith in prayer is everything. You must have faith, belief, and a real expectation that that prayer will be dealt with by God justly. If you do not, I can assure you it will fall on deaf ears.
What does the Father and the Son say about faith? In the Psalms we are told that the "Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full" (Ps.31:23) and "The Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones" (Ps.37:28)
We are also given a point to ponder as well as some self examination in 2nd Corinthians 13:5 when we are told to "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test?"
WHY WE PRAY
TROUBLES, HARDSHIP, LONELINESS, HOPLESSNESS
Our reasons for praying to God are many. We may be having trouble in our lives, hardships we're trying to endure, crushing feelings of depression and loneliness, or we just don't feel quite right if we aren't!
Whatever the reason, God DOES want to hear from you. He already knows what you want and what you need but He can do nothing until you ask and even then you must fulfill the requirements for Him to pay particular ear to your needs. He doesn't have a lot of hoops you must jump through or tasks to perform that are beyond your limits of understanding or doing for your prayers to be considered by Him.
You must remember that whether you believe or not, you are still His child and He will never forsake you or forget you even though you may not acknowledge Him. He will however patiently wait upon you to believe in Him and His Son that you may have a proper relationship with Him.
What does the bible say about why we pray or the reasons we need prayer for ourselves? We must, particularly for the non-believer, seek God out first and foremost. In Luke, we are told "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you" "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Lk 11-9-10)
The Psalms give us the assurance that "God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God". (Ps. 53:2)
Next is why exactly do we seek God? For most of us, we are looking for answers to our troubles, suffering, and hardships. The bible is great in that it gives us these answers for all who seek the mind of Him who created us. If we stick with the bible, we find that it truly is our road map to life given to us by the one and only true God of the Universe.
Imagine that when you pray, you're praying to the Creator of all things seen and unseen not to Mary, or Joseph or any other sinner of the bible for all have fallen short of the glory of God! Imagine God Himself making time for you and only you!
"O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry." (Psalm 88:1)
"Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray." (Psalm 5:2)
Let's see what God's road map reveals to us concerning life's toils and troubles. We all go through life's hardships no matter who you are; believer and non-believer alike. As a believer however, you have the ever present, ever perfect word of God to guide you through these times.
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other" (Ecc. 7:14) What a biblical truth! And God's people said - AMEN!
Hardship is nothing new to the bible either in the New Testament or the Old but we are reminded that hardships are a "fire that will test the quality of each man's work (1 Cor. 3:13) but we are further reminded in James 1:12 that "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
Another biblical reason for us to have and to endure hardship is found in Philippians 1:18-19 "I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."
Nowhere in the bible does God preclude any of His children from being tested by trials and hardships. It's our Father's way of testing our "metal" and our faith and trust in Him through those times.
Isaiah confirms this belief by exclaiming in God's word in Isaiah 48:10 "I have tested you in the furnace of affliction" and again in chapter 38 verse 17 that "Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish"
By testing us through the tough times, God assures you that "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" and why not! We tested God so much so that only the death of His Son on the cross would suffice if that's not a test of faith, love and hope then I don't know what is!
Troubles happen every day. Some serious, some not so much but still they're troubling none the less. God has a straight forward way to deal with this in James 5:13 we are instructed "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray." That's fairly forthright and in your face just as Proverbs 24:10 "If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!" Strength in whom? GOD! And God's people said - AMEN!
God is always there in our times of troubles and He lets us know He cares about us by His words in the Scriptures. Sometimes, He even allows these times of testing just to see if we will depend upon Him or not. He does not want to see our faith wane or be broken.
Our reaction to His testing will testify to our faith and strength in Him who created us "Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up" (Psalm 71:20) or if you prefer, Psalm 9:9 "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."
The Lord by His word helps us through these various crises if we trust in Him and in Him alone "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides the still waters, he restores my soul"(Psalm 23:2-3)
Watch this now, "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all" (Psalm 34:19) But the Lord delivers him from them all man that's power for living at its best! And God's people said - AMEN!
WHAT ARE SOME HINDRANCES TO PRAYER?
What are some hindrances to prayer? What do we do that may cause God not to listen to us? Lack of obedience? Failure to forgive others? Jesus reminds us faithfully in the gospel of John, 15:7, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you."
Sometimes our biggest stumbling blocks in enjoying a healthy relationship with the Almighty is ourselves and what we haven't done. Confession of our sins as outlined in Isaiah 59:2 is a good starting point. We are told here "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
Another stumbling block is our failure to obey God's commands "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him." (1 John 3:21-22)
Lack of faith "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
Failure to forgive a brother or sister in Christ
"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25)
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15-15)
Approaching prayer with the wrong motives
You must pray with a contrite and forgiving heart so as not to just fill the air with hollow words. The Father teaches us in Isaiah that "The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." (Is. 29:13)
In the New Testament the same theme resonates through the gospel of James 4:3, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
Now that we've learned a few of the hindrances to prayer and the path that they'll take us to, let us examine how to pray along with receiving answers to our prayers.
How to Pray
So as to understand the simplicity of prayer in even greater detail, our Lord goes on to explain in Matthew 6:5-15; "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. "Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. "Pray, then, in this way;
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us
From evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
And the glory, forever. Amen.
He goes on to say; "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
What a powerful statement our Savior has made concerning prayer! Let's recap. In order to have an effective moment in prayer with the Father, you must first confess your sin, ask for forgiveness, and repent from them.
Pray to the Father but remember, pray from the heart "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God Thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17).
"The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him." (Proverbs 15:8)
You cannot con God He knows and understands your heart and your intentions better than you do!
Offer praise and glory for past blessings, answered prayers, show your gratitude to a loving God who cares deeply about His children. And most importantly, offer up your prayers in the name of Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God for no one can come to the Father but through Him.
If you'll follow this outline about how to pray effectively, you will be blessed by the Almighty and slowly will become a fierce prayer warrior. As in all things, give yourself time and don't beat yourself up if you feel your prayer was woefully inadequate. Be patient, ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and He will support your efforts!
GETTING ANSWERS TO PRAYER
With everything we've suggested here so far, we now want to know whose prayers get answered and if they are answered, how will we know? The best way to know if prayers are answered or not, is to be righteous with God and in tune with His Holy Spirit. That way, we won't have to look as hard to see the blessing received.
However, we must realize that sometimes bad things happen to good people. God does not have to reveal His entire purpose to us. We must trust God and be faithful putting our entire being in His hands and knowing that what He does has purpose whether we realize it or not.
Here are some scriptures I found that help to answer the question about receiving answers to prayer however as we have discussed, they are not without condition unlike God's love which is given unconditionally.
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16) What a simple yet powerful statement which basically sums up today's lesson. And all God's people said - AMEN!
When being righteous and in line with God's will and not your own, the answer to prayer is beyond measure by mans standards. He will bless until you are overflowing with riches in abundance.
Stated a little longer but following the same theme, we look to 1st John 5:14-15 and are told that "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." "And if we know he hears us whatever we ask we know that we have what we ask of him."
"For everyone who asks receives; said Jesus in Luke 11:10, he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
In this statement, Jesus is all inclusive not wanting to leave anyone behind but how we become "eligible" is entirely in our hands.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13)
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)
Prayers that sometimes seem to go unanswered are those in which God has something better for us than what we can pray for or what we may be praying for may hurt us somehow and He protects us from it.
How can I get these blessings for myself and to know my prayers to God are heard?
I ask the Lord at this time to let the Holy Spirit lay a conviction upon your soul about lingering hate or bigotry and that you would ask for God's forgiveness to heal you this very day.
Our Father tells us "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:14-15) He also reminds us in Ephesians (4:32), to "Be kind to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you."
If you don't know forgiveness, you'll never understand or be ready for salvation. So ask yourself this, "What must I do to be saved?"
1.) Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This is not a promise of a perfect life quite the opposite! Jesus said "Take up your cross and follow me!" You may be ridiculed, lose friends, lose jobs and be persecuted for your beliefs. If this happens, and more times than not it will, praise God for this tells you without a doubt that you are His child and when the day is over and everything is said and done, that's all that matters.
2.) Confess your sins. Bring all your sins to the cross of Jesus. Christ's blood has the power to cleanse all sins don't hold anything back! God knows everything but He wants you to come to Him freely and make your confession.
3.) Repent of Your Sins. What does it mean to repent? To repent is to completely turn away from old habits that cause you to stumble or sin in the first place.
4.) Live a Godly life. Christ said in John, Chapter 11 that "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies" In John 14 he reiterates this statement and adds that "no one comes to the Father but by me" There is no name under heaven other than Jesus that will unlock the gates of heaven to you when you die.
None of us are guaranteed anything. You and I may die today, only the Father knows the appointed time. Wouldn't it be nice to know that you've laid up for yourself treasures in heaven?
God patiently waits on those who seek Him. If you're unsure of your relationship with our Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, contact me. Together, we'll seek guidance from the Father to eliminate those things which are interfering with your walk with God.
Copyright 2010 Rev. Chas Brothers is an Independent Christian Minister with Honorary Doctorates in Biblical Studies and Divinity. He is also a motivational speaker and writer and may be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.orgAll Scriptures taken from the Zondervan 1984 NIV and used with permission
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