The Bible is replete with reasons why we do not receive the answers we seek when we pray. When prayers go unanswered, they offer us an opportunity for introspection, and to reassess ourselves through the mirror of the Word of God.

I have highlighted five reasons why prayers go unanswered:

 

FELLOWSHIP

When seen as mere communication between God and man, prayer does very little to change the status quo. You could as well talk to the ceiling and expect global warming to stop. The desire of God is to have men walk in union with Him, and to let go of acts of darkness and selfishness. Fellowship helps us evolve and connect intimately with the deep passions and desires of God. Otherwise, we lose intimacy and go on a frolic, out of God’s Word.

So when our prayers are unanswered, it is an opportunity for us to examine our life to see if we are in true fellowship with the Father. That means we truly examine our actions and intents, and turn from ways that render our relationship with the Father frosty. Frosty relationships do not have good communication till the issue is resolved.

Jesus said:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 (NET)

The foremost desire for all Christians therefore is to be in fellowship with the Father. It is the underlying purpose of the proclamation of the Gospel. (1 John 1:3,5-7; 2 John 9). When our fellowship is good, we can be certain that our prayers will be answered.

Characteristics of a Christian fellowship

 

REVERENCE

Many have gotten so accustomed to the goodness and love of God, that they have begun to take Him rather so casually. They approach Him in a manner almost akin to entitlement, they forget that God is unchanging, and still remains the Almighty God, who holds the world in His hands, and has the power to do anything He wills. This lack of reverence for the person of the Almighty God hinders many prayers.

Reverence is a derivative of the term “the fear of God”. In Greek and Hebrew, the term denotes not an extreme awe, and total submission to God. It is being overwhelmed by the mighty presence, and splendour of God, that it causes dread and culminates in unhindered veneration of the Most High God.

Isaiah experienced this awe, so much, he cried out “Woe is me!” (Isaiah 6:5). The Apostle John fell like a dead man when he came face to face with divinity. (Revelations 1:17). To understand the glory of the Uncreated Creator is to begin to master the dynamics of divine reverence. It brings us to understand that we truly are nothing, and that it is a privilege to be able to even come into His presence to make requests. That reverence and devotion cannot but be seen even in our physical disposition to prayer.

Hebrews 5:7 says

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God (NLT)

The Message Bible puts it in clearer terms: “Because he honoured God, God answered him.

If the son of God understood deep reverence for, and submission to, the Father, how much more we, who have benefited from so great a salvation. When we stop taking prayer so casually, and actually venerate God when we approach Him, we will receive answers to our prayers.

 

PRIDE AND PRESUMPTION

The unfortunate thing about pride is that it not only hinders our prayers, but also incurs the opposition of God (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). Pride is a lack of veneration for God, but goes further into the extreme of presuming that our wishes and prayers will come to pass simply because of our person. Often, Christians can become so charged by the fact that God has blessed them and gifted them that they go on to take the glory that God deserves. Consequently, the push further to making plans and patterns to perpetuate their existence by their own power, often times, fully expecting God to have no choice but to “back them up”. Their intentions begin to wander off the path of righteousness towards self-establishment. Because of past successes, they begin to live life without recourse to the sovereignty and omnipotence of God.

James warned such people in his letter:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” Jam 4:13-15 (NET)

Pride and presumption set us on a collision course with God. It is a direct challenge against His sovereignty over the affairs of our life. For such people, prayer is mechanical and rote. God does not rubber stamp the plans of men.

There needs to be a submission to the Spirit’s scrutiny, so pride and presumptuous sin can be exposed. (Psalm 139)

How nutrition affects your Christianity

STEWARDSHIP

God takes faithfulness very seriously. Often, we ask God to answer our prayers, so that more resources can be committed to us. However, He knows the resources He has bestowed upon us, and how we have fared in managing them. God generally does not entrust so much into the hands of people who have not displayed loyalty, responsibility, integrity, and accountability in using the resources they do have, but rather use them for personal gain or even waste them!

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 15-30), we see how God expects faithfulness in the administration of the resources he has put in our care. He rewards faithfulness by giving even more resources.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10 – 12:

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much… Therefore, if you have not been unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (NKJV)

The things we have, everything, belong to God. He expects us to steward them with faithfulness, so he can give us rewards, and also commit to us more responsibilities and resources. When we fail to put them to good use, and for his purpose, we definitely will not have our prayers answered. Conversely, when we have been faithful, he will reward us with the things we desire, and great us pleasures, even in this world.

 

MOTIVE

James is one of the most direct writers in the Bible. When it came to the issue of unanswered prayers, he gave a most profound reason, one that must cause us to take a step back and re-evaluate the very reason we approach God for anything.

You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions. Jam 4:3 (NET)

In a world where so many things call for our attention, and piques our fancy, we find it quite difficult to rein in our desires. We want so many things, and we sometimes even feel like we deserve them, legitimately. However, understanding relationship and fellowship with God lets us know that we are not in the world merely to live and acquire stuff. We are here for his glory, and the ultimate end is to have lived life fully, pursuing the desires of our Lord. When we come to pray to the Father, to ask for things in the name of the Lord, just so we can have our own desires satisfied, we work against the code of love, and we will most often get no answer.

The Lord gives to us so we can glorify him by the way we bless others with our resources. In that, we are not seeking our own, but the glory of God, and the good of our fellow man.

Paul said that God has the ability to give abundantly to us so we can be able to do good works. (2 Corinthians 9:5) So when we meet with closed doors when we pray, we need to check our motives, to see if what we are asking is really what God would want for us at the time.

 

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It is important to note that God cannot be boxed into a singular paradigm. His response to prayer is entirely his prerogative, and a complete exercise of his sovereignty. Unanswered do not always mean that we are wrong, or we have issues. At times, he just wants us to desire our answers so much, we continue to ask persistently, and he can use that to build our perseverance. At other times, he may just want to curb our reliance on the answer, because our desired response is becoming an idol in our hearts.

What we must do as Christians is to pursue a life of fellowship with Christ, studying the Word and growing daily in intimacy with him.

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