I was told, recently, that we often times forget that we’re in a war. Each day is a mini-battle that takes place on two fronts, the worldly beachfront and the spiritual seas. Forgetting that we’re in a war leaves us vulnerable. We have no weapons up front and the enemy just walks across our poorly built trenches.
That enemy is Satan. Diabolical and smooth talking, he leaves destruction in his wake. One of the biggest, if not biggest, tactics he uses is telling us that God has forgotten about us. He knows he’ll never beat God, but he has a blueprint to destroy God’s children. Lie to us. Make us believe.
The sad realization is that we’ve begun following Satan’s bad advice. We start to doubt God’s process and the power of prayer. We basically allow Satan to sit at our war council table and instruct us on how we should proceed. We start to charge God, just as Job, and the complaining starts…
“I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me:
I stand up, and thou regardest me not.”
- Job 30:20(KJV)
Just like Job, our present difficulties cloud our vision of God’s faithfulness. We think God has forgotten or forsaken us, so our prayer life lacks. You hear complaints such as:
I’ve been praying, for X amount of time, and I’m tired of it. I get zero prayers answered and I see no results, so I’m supposed to just keep praying? How long must I wait, God? I see everyone prospering but me. What am I doing wrong?
Many go through this thought process but we must be careful not to draw God’s rebuke, just as he responded to Job in Job 38. We need to have an honest conversation with ourselves and take an in-depth look at why our prayers may be slow to be answered. We can’t charge God with neglect if it’s our own behavior that’s responsible. Here are 4 reasons prayers go unanswered.
Our Prayers Aren’t In Alignment With God’s Will
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss,
that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”- James 4:3 (KJV)
God is not our personal genie and prayer is not our 3 wishes. We often find ourselves using prayer as a liberty to pray for whatever selfishness our heart can conceive. We then get upset when God doesn’t sign off on that aforementioned selfishness but if God were to answer every request, with no thought but just a solemn yes, He would no longer have any glory nor grace.
Job asked for God to take his life. What would’ve happened had God really did that?
“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:21(KJV)
God placed guidelines and commandments over prayer. These guidelines are a way to mow over any weeds - or self-centered prayers - and encourage honest prayer efforts to pray in confidence.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
- 1 John 5: 14-15(KJV)
You may be asking for a better job when in fact, that job is just as worse as your current one. You ask to win that million dollar grand prize yet none of the money will be dedicated to God’s church, helping the poor and needy, or donating to further research for a particular disease. Why should God give you the money if you’re only going to further personal gain? God knows your heart and what’s best for you, future wise – Jeremiah 29:11 – He is sovereign after all.
What Do I Do? Be like Daniel. Daniel went to God and His word, first, searching for God’s will emphatically. Daniel 9:3 states, “And I set my face unto the Lord, God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes…” (KJV)
Our Need To Fulfill Personal Lusts or Dreams
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear me…”– Psalm 66:18 (KJV)
Point. Blank. Period. God will not assist us in our lustful, sin driven pursuits. Lust goes far beyond a sexual desire. It can include greed, a strong desire or craving, covetousness and the list goes on.
You ask for a new car because you lust after the status that a new 2016 will give you; so you pray, “Lord, give me a new Mercedes Coupe.” You ask for a new job because you lust after the privileges and covet all the things a higher paying job will afford you; so you pray, “Lord, I need this job, it’s the only way I’ll be able to get…to pay…”
How Can I Tell If My Heart Is Right? Test yourself. How do you respond when God delays or denies your request? When your heart is based on lustful ambitions, you demand a hasty answer from God. You start to whine and complain; become restless and accusing God of not hearing you. Anxiety is your new best friend. He hears you, but your reaction is all he needs to see to know you’re asking wrongfully.
What Do I Do? Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. Put self in its place. Meditate on your intentions behind everything you ask God. God is obligated to deny or delay our prayers based on our intent. It’s time to start cleaning up your heart. Don’t just say I’ll stop lusting after this or that. Don’t fill your voids with senseless things that’ll have you feeling empty and looking for other vices. Dig down to the root cause behind your lustful prayers, rip that root up, and start planting Christ seeds. Surrender all your lusts and sinfully driven prayers.
Our Doubt Leads To Unbelief in Prayer
Satan is so cowardly that he feasts on our deepest fear, having no hope. We see no evidence of God at work in our life and we lose hope. Our prayers become nonsense, as we push our way through robotic, cue card typed prayers. We don’t believe a single thing we’re praying for OR a day or so later after we pray, we go back to worrying that our prayer isn’t going to be answered, basically slapping God in His face.
This fear and doubt robs us of not only joy, but also confidence in our heavenly Abba. We think that only David or Daniel; Elijah or Moses type prayers get answered, not ours. To show just how much we doubt, our lack of patience kicks in. We literally give God a few days and then it’s back to business as usual. Oh, woe is me. God won’t answer, so I have to do this on my own, but how? I’m not shocked God didn’t answer me.
Here’s the thing, God hears you. He heard you the moment the words flew out of your month and landed into his ear. As Daniel Wilkerson put it,
“The longer a prayer is delayed, the more perfect it will come forth at last.
Also, the deeper the silence, the louder the answer.”
What Do I Do? Wait patiently on the Lord. Abraham prayed for a child and what did God do? He answered it in his perfect time. At that age, Abraham and Sarah were a testament as to God’s grace and glory. You knew it was no one BUT God who answered that prayer. Not only that, Abraham’s long await child became the father to many nations. Use the time in waiting to rejoice in God’s yet-to-come promise and revel in hope as we wait on God’s fulfillment.
Our Laid Out Plans For Fulfilled Promises
We fall into the trap of laying out a list of demands before God, as if he’s an enemy surrendering to our demands and spoils of war. Is this how you treat someone you trust in? Usually, if you trust someone, you leave them to their own devices, to work behind the scenes and get things done.
God commands us to welcome all of his answers the same, with fervent obedience no matter the outcome. We’re to pray, releasing all of our burdens onto the Lord and leave him to renew and reshape us. By telling God how to answer our requests, we essentially limit our Father. We’re thinking he’s suppose to knock on the front door, not knowing that his answer is coming out of the back patio or side door. We become result oriented instead of heeding the promises God has issued. God is not a tamagotchi pet; therefore he isn’t limited by time or a set way to answer. God can do exceedingly and abundantly more than what comprehend. Yet we still have little faith.
What Do I Do? First, stay patient as prescribed in Hebrews 11:36. Secondly, stop telling God how to answer your prayers. Stop giving him a blueprint to your perfect answered prayer. Do as Hannah did, “And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (1 Samuel 1:18, KJV)
Additional Notes & Tips
Have A Good Memory. You should practice having a good memory on the promises God has brought into fulfillment (Psalm 77:10,11). This memory is what pushes you to keep going and relishing in God’s presence. Keep a prayer journal or get a composition notebook and write down all the promises or situations God has delivered.
Less Worry on Receiving, More Relying On God. We get so caught up in the overall receiving of whatever God wants that we become consumed. Our impatience and focus on a result not only angers God but also breaks his heart, saddening him. How can you claim to be a child of God if you’re not relying on your Father for substance?
Groan, not Rumble. If I’m not doing God’s will or in alignment with him, I can feel the Holy Spirit groaning for betterment. But when you start to rumble and grumble from the flesh, Houston we have a problem. Rumbling and grumbling, from the flesh, keeps you from blessings. Remember what happened to those in Israel who grumbled and never saw the Holy Land.
Pay In Praises. Never question God when he is silent on your prayer. Instead, praise him joyfully. There are plenty of examples within the Bible where, when faced with silence, they joyfully went on with their lives, just as though the promises were already fulfilled. You have to praise before you partake in God’s blessing. Before any prayer is ever fulfilled.
Sweat Equity. Put in the work necessary when you pray. No, this doesn’t mean going out and trying to make it work, yourself. This means, if you pray for a job, put yourself in a position where you’re not only ready for that job (either applying, or looking, or making sure you’re ready) but also, putting in work with God and ensuring you’re in perfect alignment. Be obedient with the work he entrusts you with. If you pray to be delivered from a sin, well you must also actively work to overcome that sin as well, fleeing temptation.