Question: Has God not promised to always answer my prayers?
Sometimes when we pray to God, it may seem that He is not answering our prayers. This could be because we are under the common yet incorrect notion that God has promised to always answer our prayers. When we look at the Bible, what we see is that there are certain conditions that must be met if God is to hear our prayers.
1. Believing in Jesus, asking in Jesus’ name
Only believers can approach God with their prayers and petitions through Jesus, who is our only mediator and intercessor. What about the unbeliever then? God will hear only one prayer from an unbeliever – that of repentance. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ then you are not God’s child and you do not have the right to expect answers to your prayers. (1 John 5:14-15, 1 John 3:22, John 14:6, John 15:7, John 16:23)
2. According to God’s will
Are you seeking God’s will when you pray (Romans 12:2)? If we pray only for our desires not considering God’s will, He will not hear us (1 John 5:14-15, James 4:3).
3. For the glory of God
The glory of God is the purpose for which we were created (Isaiah 43:7, 1 Cor. 10:31). If our prayers do not ultimately seek that God be glorified, then it may not be in God’s perfect will (John 14:13-14, 1 Corinthians 10:31).
4. Purity of heart
Sin can cause our prayers to go unheard and be unanswered (Isaiah 59:1-2,Psalm 66:18). If we harbour sin in our hearts, if we have un-confessed sin in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers (2 Chronicles 7:14). If you are married and your marital relationship falls short of God’s standards, your prayers may be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
5. Without doubting
When we pray, we should pray believing that we will receive what we ask for. If we cannot truly believe that we will receive it, is it because we are asking for something we are not sure we should be praying for? (Mark 11:24, James 1:6-8, Matthew 21:22)
6. Forgiving spirit
If we are not willing to forgive others, God will not forgive us either (Matt 6:14).
7. Without pride
The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:11, 12-14), shows that God will not receive the prayers of a prideful person.
We are commanded to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). The parable of the woman and the judge (Luke 18:1-8) and that of the persistent friend (Luke 11:5-8) also show that persistent insistent and persevering prayer is rewarded by God (James 5:16).
If God doesn’t hear your prayer right away, it does not mean that He says ‘No’. The answer to your prayer might be ‘Wait’. Remember that God knows what is best for us. He knows the plans He has for us and He says that they are for our good, and not for our destruction (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows the best time to answer our prayers so we should develop patience and persevere in our prayers (Isaiah 64:4, Psalm 27:14).