Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered Prayers
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Zechariah 7:13 Today’s English Version (TEV) Because they did not listen when I spoke, I did not answer when they prayed. [Read Zechariah 7:8-14]

Something to think about:
God does not answer all prayers. Proverbs 1:24-25, 28 International Children’s Bible (ICB) I called, but you refused to listen. I held out my hand, but you paid no attention. 25 You did not follow my advice. You did not want me to correct you. 28 “Then you will call out to me. But I will not answer…” [Read Proverbs 1:20-33]
Key Points:
  1. Sin is the main reason God will not answer prayer.
  2. Jesus says for God to hear us we do not have to say the same thing over and over. Matthew 6:7 (OEBus) When praying, do not repeat the same words over and over again, as is done by the Gentiles, who think that by using many words they will obtain a hearing. [Read Matthew 6:5-15 focus verses: 7-8]
  3. Proverbs 15:29 Contemporary English Version (CEV) The Lord never even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of all who obey him.

If you have more time please continue, if you don’t have time for more, please jump to the end to give feedback in the comment area/poll. Go to end.

Unanswered Prayers
picture for unanswered prayers

God has gone away from me and will no longer give me any answer
1 Samuel 28:15 (BBE)
[read 1 Samuel 28:3-25 (focus 6 and 15)]


Genesis 4:26 (KJV) And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD. [read Genesis 5:25-26]

Before we start to study and get an understanding ‘unanswered prayers’ I would like to take a look at prayer and the first mention of prayer (or so it seems) in the Bible. The phrase ‘to call‘ comes from the Hebrew qara‘ meaning to call unto; cry (for help); the phrase ‘upon the name‘ is from the Hebrew shem meaning name; the Name or character. Most translators agree on a form of the phrase ‘to call upon the name‘ others interpret the phrase as ‘men began to worship‘ while a few use ‘men began to pray‘.

Matthew 6:5-6 (RKJNT) And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have received their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you. [read Matthew 6:5-14]

What is prayer? The simplest definition of prayer is verbal or silent communication {this also includes listening and hearing; we must listen to and hear from God to complete the exchange} with God. It is not possible to cover the meaning of prayer or get a full understanding of prayer in this introduction, but you can view the related articles at the end of this blog for more information on prayer.

Matthew 11:15 (EXB) Let those with ears use them and listen! [read Matthew 11:1-19]
John 8:47 (RKJNT) He who is of God hears God’s words: therefore you do not hear them, because you are not of God. [read John 8:37-47]

Unanswered prayers

Jeremiah 14:10-12 (Brenton) Thus saith the Lord to this people, They have loved to wander, and they have not spared, therefore God has not prospered them; now will he remember their iniquity. 11 And the Lord said to me, Pray not for this people for their good: 12 for though they fast, I will not hear their supplication; and though they offer whole-burnt-offerings and sacrifices, I will take no pleasure in them: for I will consume them with sword, and with famine, and with pestilence.

After careful review of many articles and thousands of Scriptures, I conclude the source of all unanswered prayers is SIN. You cannot let me get away with that conclusion without Scriptures. Okay, you convinced me to put that decision on hold. Supplication, request, intercession, entreaty and petition are the typical words for prayer but what do they mean? Supplication – to ask God for something sincerely and with respect.

Continue to look up the meaning of the other words and maybe you will find answers to unanswered prayers. Matthew 7:7-11 and Luke 11:9-13search, and you will find

Unanswered Prayers
Part One

picture of unanswered prayers 2 - Pacifica Beach, Pacifica, CA

“Help! No Answer”

This series, also part of the ‘Awareness Series’, will deal with unanswered prayer. Make sure you are listening for His answer is one suggestion. Oops, I meant to say do not decide that God did not answer until you are sure you were listening.

Why didn’t God answer my prayer? Have you ever thought about this or asked yourself that question? You are not alone, many have been in this place. This series will give Bible-based answers. I must urge you to take time to read the Scriptures and pray for understanding. The following lists a few reasons God does not answer prayer:

  • Lack of charity or mercy (particularly to the poor) – Proverbs 21:13 [Proverbs 14:31; Matthew 18:23-35; 25:31-46 (41-46); James 2:13.]
  • Pride – Job 35:12 [Psalms 18:35-42 (41); Proverbs 1:20-33 (28)]
    • A proud person is not humble; pride is opposite humility. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray…”
    • The Lord stays away from the proud Psalms 138:6
  • Vain repetitions – Matthew 6:7 [example: 1 Kings 18:20-40 (26-29); Daniel’s prayer Daniel 9:17-19 and Jesus praying Matthew 26:36-46 are not examples]

    NT:945 βαττολογέω battologeō bat-tol-og-eh’-o to repeat the same things over and over, to use many and idle words, to babble, prate. (from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon ) [My note, this phrase, vain repetitions, used once. Some believe Jesus’s meaning is not clear. If there is enough interest I will cover this in another blog later.]

  • Hypocrisy, hypocrite or pretender – Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:13-14; Job 27:7-10 (8-10); Isaiah 1:2-20 (15)

1 John 3:22 New Life Version (NLV) We will receive from Him whatever we ask if we obey Him and do what He wants.

Prayer must also be offered in the faith that God is, and is the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that he will fulfil his word, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (Matthew 7:7,8; 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13,14), and in the name of Christ (16:23,24; 15:16; Ephesians 2:18; 5:20; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:5). from Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Scriptures to read and study:

Proverbs 21:12-17 (13); Job 35:9-16 (12); Matthew 6:5-7 (5 & 7); Luke 18:9-14 (13-14)

Question for unanswered prayers – part 1: Have you prayed and not received an answer?

Unanswered Prayers
Part Two
picture for unanswered prayers p2 - Presidio, San Francisco, CA

“Why pray to God if you will not listen to or obey Him? You should not expect to hear an answer!”

One of the primary reasons for unanswered prayer is sin. Yes, sin has been responsible for God ignoring prayer. The following lists a few more reasons God does not answer prayer:

  • Refusing to hear the truth – Proverbs 28:9; Zechariah 7:11-13 [2 Timothy 4:1-5]
  • God looks at the way we treat others and then determines if He will answer prayer. Let’s do something different [use these links to compare Micah 3:4 studybible.info and biblegateway.com] a basic Bible study. The difference is we will step through it together.
    1. Look at Micah 3:4 the second part of the verse: “But He will not hear them” (NKJV)
  • AKJV, GNV, KJ21, KJV, OJB and WYC – use the word ‘hear
  • AMP, ASV, BBE, CEB, CJB, DAR, ERV, ESV, EXB, GWT, GNT, HCSB, LEB, LITV, NASB, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NOG, NRSV, NRSVA, NSB, RSV, VOICE, WEB and YLT – use the word ‘answer‘ instead of ‘hear’.
  • So hopefully we agree that the Lord (see the first part of Micah 3:4) said He would not hear or answer (of course He would not answer if He did not hear :-)). We could go further into this since the word answer would imply that He did hear, but let’s move on.
  • Next, let’s understand who the Lord will not hear or answer according to Micah. To do this we must go back to verse one. Using the same translations/versions/revisions as in step 1 above we find:
    • Subtitles: ‘Wicked (sinful, unjust) rulers, priests and prophets, ‘leaders of Israel
    • Verse one wording 1st part: heads, leaders or princes of Jacob
    • Verse one wording 2nd part: rulers, princes, officers, magistrates or leaders of the house (nation) of Israel
  • Finally, we should find the reason the Lord will not hear or answer their prayers. To keep it short stay within verse 1-4 but deeper study start at Micah 1:1. I will start us off, please fill in the rest, have fun!
    • They knew or should know right from wrong
    • They were haters of good and lovers of evil

Habakkuk 1:2 The Voice (VOICE) How long must I cry, O Eternal One, and get no answer from You? Even when I yell to You, “Violence is all around!” You do nothing to save those in distress.

God does not listen to our prayers if we intend to go back to our sin as soon as we get off our knees. When we forsake our sin and follow him, however, he willingly listens—no matter how bad our sin has been. What closes his ears is not the depth of our sin but our secret intention to do it again. God hears our intentions as clearly as he hears our words. from Life Application Study Bible

Scriptures to read and study:

Proverbs 28:7-10 (9); Zechariah 7:8-14 (11-13); Micah 3:1-4

Question for ‘unanswered prayers part 2’: Is sin causing your prayers to go unanswered?

Unanswered Prayers
Part Three

picture for unanswered prayers 3 - Beaumont, CA

“Get right Get answers”

This is the last of the 3-part series. To get to the point, this last part will address sin a very broad topic, so let’s begin. The best place to start is to define the word sin. Those who have attended church services may have some idea of the meaning. Have you ever heard the terms ‘sin of commission‘ and ‘sin of omission‘? I’ll briefly explain:

  • Sin of commission (action, doing or performing): something (includes doing, saying, thinking or feeling) or a thing that is against God’s teaching. In other words, sin of commission is evil, disobedient, wicked or bad conduct.
  • Sin of omission (ignoring, disrespecting or avoiding): not doing something (includes doing, saying, thinking or feeling) that God’s teaching says we should do. It damages our relationship and communication with God since one fails to conduct oneself in a good, obedient, righteous or right way.
Examples of sin of commission:

Galatians 5:19-21 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: committing sexual sin, being morally bad, doing all kinds of shameful things, 20 worshiping false gods, taking part in witchcraft, hating people, causing trouble, being jealous, angry or selfish, causing people to argue and divide into separate groups, 21 being filled with envy, getting drunk, having wild parties, and doing other things like this. I warn you now as I warned you before: The people who do these things will not have a part in God’s kingdom.

Examples of sin of omission:

Matthew 25:41-46 (RKJNT) Then he shall say to those on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me no food: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and you did not take me in: naked, and you did not clothe me: sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.

44 Then they also shall answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? 45 Then he shall answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life. [read Matthew 25:31-46]


Sin – constant voluntary action, word, desire, or purpose against God’s will. It is against the will of God to not believe in God; unbelief is sin. Sin is doing things that one should not do (evil, wrong) as well as not doing things that one should do (good, right) in accord with God’s will. Sin defines our relationship or lack of relationship with God. It is the result of failure to hear and obey God.

The fundamental unbelief, distrust and rejection of God and human displacement of God as the center of reality. excerpt from Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms

Proverbs 15:29 Contemporary English Version (CEV) The Lord never even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of all who obey him.

Most translations either use “The Lord is far from the wicked” or some form of ‘far from’, however, I need you to keep an open mind and study God’s word. This is a comparative verse, it tells us what the Lord will do for the wicked and righteous; opposites right? Now, the response to their prayers should also oppose each other, hear the righteous and do the opposite for the wicked. Also, consider the following information from as many Bible commentaries as I could find (I rarely do this but wanted to make a point; all about Proverbs 15:29):

  • Adam Clarke’s Commentary: [The Lord is far from the wicked] ‘He is neither near to hear, nor near to help.’
  • Barnes and Pulpit Commentary compares Proverbs 15:29 to John 9:31 “Now we know that God does not hear sinners…”
  • Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament “He distances Himself from them, refusing to hear them.”
  • Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary ‘i.e., far from ‘hearing their prayer
  • Keil and Delitzsch Commentary ‘their prayer reaches not to Him
  • Matthew Henry’s Commentary ‘has no communion with them, will not hear them

Isaiah 59:1-3 (NKJV) Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity.

Scriptures to read and study:

Ezekiel 8:1-18 (18); Proverbs 1:8-33 (10-16 & 23-31); Psalms 66:16-20 (18); James 4:1-10 (3)

Question for ‘unanswered prayers part 3’: Are you getting answers to your prayers?

Unanswered Prayers Conclusion

The experience of unanswered prayers can frustrate even the best Christian. I often think of the relationship I had with my children and the times they asked for something knowing they were disobedient or had repeated a request that I already answered. Yes, you guessed it; I either would not answer or I would tell them to leave my presence. Sin damages our relationship with God our heavenly father. Having read / studied this lesson, are you convinced that sin is the cause of unanswered prayer?

Ezekiel 8:17-18 (KJV) Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

When we live in obedience to God we remove a major element that can cause Him not to answer us. Like a good father, God will hear and answer the prayers of His obedient children; obey God and be blessed—Tim.

Related Articles

The Prayer Formula | Pray First | Prayer Blockers | ISBE | MSBC

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Published on: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 | Last update: Monday, August 3, 2015

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Bishop Pettiford

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  1. σχεσεις girl

    This post is invaluable. When can I find out more?

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