Unanswered prayers can be the result of many things. One key element causing God to not answer prayer is sin; the result of failure to hear and obey God. Use this amazing 3-part Bible study to solve unanswered prayers.
Zechariah 7:13 Because they did not listen when I spoke, I did not answer when they prayed (TEV).
Think about this
A person’s prayer is often to ask of God. When one asks for something they expect a response or an answer. Unanswered prayers happen because the Lord did not hear the prayer. Wrong living (sin) is the primary reason that the prayer is not heard. So, God does not answer all prayers.
Proverbs 1:24-25 and 28 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…” (ICB)
Before we start to study and understand ‘unanswered prayers’, let us look at 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.
Matthew 6:5-6 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. (RKJNT)
What is prayer? The simplest definition of prayer is verbal or silent communication with God. It is an exchange between a person and the Lord. The person talks to and listens to hear from God. Supplication, request, intercession, entreaty, and petition are the typical words for prayer.
It is not possible to cover the meaning of prayer or get a full understanding of prayer in this introduction. Please view the related articles at the end of this study for more information on prayer.
When God is not pleased with what people do, He will not listen to their prayer. For example, the Jews rejected the Lord by asking for a king to judge them. Samuel told the people what the Lord said, ‘you will be crying out because of your king whom you have taken for yourselves; but the Lord will not give you an answer in that day‘ [1 Samuel 8:18 (BBE)].
The message was clear ‘the Lord will not answer/hear’.
David knew that if he had ‘evil thoughts’ the Lord would not hear his prayer. ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me‘ [Psalms 66:18].
Jeremiah 14:10-12 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. (Brenton)
♥ Question for unanswered prayers – intro: If the Lord does not hear prayer, should one expect an answer?
This series, also part of the ‘Awareness Series’, will deal with and solve the unanswered prayer mystery. 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 the time to read the Scriptures and pray for understanding. The following lists a few reasons God does not answer prayer.
Vain repetitions or large amounts of useless and repeated words are not okay. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not use worthless repetitions like the [unconverted] Gentiles, for they think their lengthy, repetitious wording [in prayer] is more likely to be heard [by God]” [Matthew 6:7 (AUV)].
- [example: 1 Kings 18:20-40 (26-29)].
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.]
Hypocrisy, hypocrite or pretender. And when you make your prayers, be not like the false-hearted men, who take pleasure in getting up and saying their prayers in the Synagogues and at the street turnings so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward [Matthew 6:5 (BBE)].
To get your prayers answered, you must meet certain conditions. One is to obey God.
1 John 3:22 We will receive from Him whatever we ask if we obey Him and do what He wants. (NLV)
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
♥ Question for unanswered prayers – part 1: Have you prayed and not received 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:
And I said, “Hear now, leaders of Jacob and rulers of the people of Israel! Should you not know what is fair? 2 Yet you hate good and love sin. You tear off the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones. 3 You eat my people’s flesh, pull their skin off, break their bones, and cut them up like meat for the pot.” 4 Then they will cry to the Lord, but He will not answer them. He will hide His face from them at that time, because they have done sinful things. Micah 3:1-4 (NLV)
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 NKJV as in step 1 above we find:
Finally, we should find the reason the Lord will not hear or answer their prayers. To keep it short stay within verses 1-4 but deeper study starts at Micah 1:1. I will start us off, please fill in the rest, have fun!
Habakkuk 1:2 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. (The Voice)
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
♥ Question for ‘unanswered prayers part 2’: Is sin causing your prayers to go unanswered?
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:
Examples of the sin of commission:
Galatians 5:19-21 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. (ERV)
Examples of the sin of omission:
Matthew 25:41-46 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. (RKJNT)
Sin is 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. Constant 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 The Lord never even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of all who obey him. (CEV)
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.
Isaiah 59:1-3 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. (NKJV)
♥ Question for ‘unanswered prayers part 3’: Are you getting answers to your prayers?
Unanswered Prayers wrap-up
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 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. (KJV)
When we obey God we remove a major element that can lead to unanswered prayers. Like a good father, God will hear and answer the prayers of His obedient children. So obey God and be blessed—Tim ☺.
Sumary: Zechariah 7:8-14 (13); Proverbs 1:20-33 (25 and 28); Matthew 6:5-15 (7-8); Proverbs 15:29.
Part 1: Proverbs 21:12-17 (13), 14:31; Matthew 18:23-35; 25:31-46 (41-46); James 2:13. Job 35:9-16 [(12); Psalms 18:35-42 (41); Proverbs 1:20-33 (28)]. Matthew 6:5-7 [(5 & 7); Luke 18:9-14 (13-14); Job 27:7-10 (8-10); Isaiah 1:2-20 (15)]. 1 John 3:16-23 (22).
Part 3: Galatians 5:16-26 (19-21); Matthew 25:31-46 (41-46); Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 59:1-3.
Related Bible studies and articles
See what is available on the Sound Truth Ministry website.
Scripture quotations marked (CEV) are from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission. || (ERV) Taken from the HOLY BIBLE: EASY-TO-READ VERSION © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center, Inc. and used by permission. || (EXB) The Expanded Bible Scripture taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright ©2011 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.’
(ICB) Scripture taken from the International Children’s Bible®. Copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. || (NKJV) Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. || (GNT) and (TEV) Scripture quotations marked (GNT) are from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission. || (The Voice) The Voice Scripture taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.