When God is Silent: Why Does God Not Seem To Be Answering My Prayer?

by Robert Driskell on September 1, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  (Matthew 7:11).  This verse tells us that God is ready to answer our prayers and supply our needs.  So why are all our prayers not answered?  Why does it seem that God sometimes does not hear us?  What is going on when it seems like our prayers are not getting any higher than the ceiling?

Right Motives (James 4:3)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).  It is so important for the Christian to evaluate his or her life from time to time.  Are our motives pure?  Are we doing what we are doing for God’s glory, or our own?  James tells us here that we must ask with the right motives.  Sometimes we can ask for the right things, but for the wrong reasons.  This could be the reason our prayers are not being answered.

When God Is Silent

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (I John 5:14-15).

Not praying in the will of God (I John 5:14-15)

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (I John 5:14-15).  It is so important to keep our relationship with God active and alive at all times.  When we do so, we are more resistant to the temptations we face every day, and our prayer life will be focused on the things that God wants them focused on.  Not only will we pray according to His will, we will structure our entire lives around Him.

Sin In Our Lives

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (I John 3:21-22).  It is amazing that so many professing Christians live their lives as if God was no more than a genie in a bottle to them.  They willfully spend their time fulfilling their sinful desires and then pray to God when they want something from Him.  This is a recipe for disaster.  The Bible says that, “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).  It is only a matter of time before the person living this way comes under the judgment of God.

Even the Psalmist knew that God does not answer the prayers of one who is willfully sinning against Him.  “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).  Many times our prayers are not answered because we have unconfessed sin in our lives or we are still currently involved in some sin.  Sin must be confessed and repented of before we can expect our prayers to be heard.

Our Timing May Be Wrong

God may indeed answer our requests in the exact manner we have submitted them to Him, but the answers may not come according to our schedule.  God may even use delayed prayer to teach us patience.  Nothing teaches patience like waiting.

Our Prayers May Have Been Answered In A Way We Were Not Expecting and/or We Did Not Recognize

God sees the big picture; we only see a small portion of that picture.  We could actually be praying for something that would be harmful for us to get.  It should be seen as encouraging when God does not answer our prayers exactly as we want, in the time frame we expect.  This shows us that He is still in control and sovereignly overrides our expectations with His perfect will.

Praying In Jesus’ Name

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13-14, also John 15:16, 16:23-24; Matthew 7:7).  Too many people think that this means simply tacking the phrase, “In Jesus’ name” onto the end of their prayers.  This is a shallow way of interpreting this verse and is an affront to the holiness of God.  How can we think that simply by adding “In Jesus name” to the end of our prayer forces God into giving us what we want?

Apologist Dave Hunt writes, “For a prayer to be truly “in the name of Jesus,” it must be as He would express it if He were praying.  It must be for the furtherance of His interests and to His glory.  His name must be stamped on the character and engraved on the heart and life of the one praying “in His name.”  (Hunt, p. 191, emphasis his)

Therefore, not only must one be praying in the will of Jesus [God], but one must also be living according to God’s will.  An unholy life will not produce a holy prayer life.  Nor will it produce effective prayers.

Right Relationships Between Husband And Wife Contribute To Fruitful Prayer

For those who are married, even the relationship between a husband and wife affect the effectiveness of one’s prayer life.  In the Epistle of First Peter, the apostle Peter instructs wives to be subject to their husbands (vv. 3:1-6), and husbands to likewise honor their wives (v. 7).  The last phrase of verse seven says, “…so that your prayers may not be hindered”.  This is a testament to how precious the union between husband and wife is to God.  It is also very practical, since it is very difficult to keep your mind on the things of God when your married life is unsettled.

The Example of the Apostle Paul

Even the biblical saints were not immune from the occasional unanswered prayer.  The apostle Paul writes, in II Corinthians 12, that he had some sort of problem that was given him to keep him from becoming conceited.  Apparently, this ‘thorn in the flesh’ was something that Paul greatly wished to be rid of.  He writes, Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:8-10).  Paul’s attitude is the attitude we should strive to exhibit.  An attitude that says that, even if it seems that God is not answering our prayers, we can be content knowing that He will not let us down.

Whether our prayers are answered to our satisfaction or not, we can always rest in the fact that God is in control.

Christians must keep in mind this promise from God, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  We must trust God to know what is best for us and the situations for which we pray.  We can take comfort in knowing that He loves us enough to have sent His Son to die on a cross for our sins.

Take a look at these other similar type articles:

Resources:

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Hunt, Dave.  In Defense of the Faith.  The Berean Call, 2009.



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{ 144 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul November 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

No its okay, its a very good example and shows great understanding…..its like a scripture i was reading last week when i asked God to speak to me from Haggai chpt two….it reminded me of my conversion, when i got born again throught teenchallenege when i came of all those drugs and for the first time in my life knew what real love was, agape love, Gods love…this scripture really encouraged me…talks about working hard, not to fear, God is with me and the glory of the later house will be greater than the former….so the example of Job is confirmation, because after Job had suffered, God vblessed him again, and yess it may have been over a period of 22 years, but it started shortly after Jobs sufefering ended, and tomorrow, this week, this month, next month who knows what God has in store, as it says, However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–

so i do know that nothing that happens in my/our lives is a surprise to God, he is all knowing, so its okay, bless you brother

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Jack Wellman November 17, 2014 at 7:16 pm

You give me hope because of Who your hope is in Paul…Thank you …and you too my brother are such a blessing.

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paul campbell November 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

hi Jack this is a scripture that God keeps giving me
1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

i am now seeking Gods will, plan and purpose for my life and i am praying that the vision he gave me way back in 1985 when i was at teenchallenge will be restored and that God will open up doors for me to go to bible college and to learn to become a bible teacher,because that was his calling way back in 1985 when i was 20 years old and i am now 49 years old. Please pray that God will open up doors for me to fulfill his calling, plan and vision for my life, i gladly bow my knee and submit to his will.

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Jack Wellman November 24, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Thank you Mr. Campbell and I deem it a privilege to pray for this cause brother. Your story sounds a lot like mine. Nevertheless, it is never too late. Next year, a close friend of mine and I are going to, God willing, begin a lower cost seminary to train pastors in remote parts of the world early next year…again, God will. This seminary will be offering an Associates and also a BA in Biblical Studies to train ministers/pastors to preach the gospel and teach their churches and to also evanglize wherever they live. I know the website owner, ministrymaker.com is presently working on this, yet, I will pray perhaps that God opens a door prior to this for brother…or that you can begin as an associates and do an interim or intern pastor which is what I did. May God open the door He deems best for you sir.

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paul campbell November 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm

that sounds like a very good idea brother, will need to wait and see what God does, problem is i am impatient sometimes, but i know from experience that its good to wait upon the Lord and follow him …..and i will follow him….it would be good to come and study and work part time to support myself and pay for my costs

Rayanne November 26, 2014 at 6:12 am

I’m writing out of desperation. I am 47 with 2 kids ages 12 and 16. I divorced their alcoholic father 9 years ago. He has disappeared out of their lives (6 years ago) and has had no contact at all. My children deal with abandonment issues regularly.

I have been remarried for about 6 years. My husband is an evangelical Christian that is constantly preaching. I am a strong but more silent Christian. It came to my attention about 3 years ago that my husband is very seriously emotionally abusing my son. It began when he was 11 and just stopped last year.

When I found out the severity of it (constant name calling, berating, trying to leave him out of family events, ridicule, etc) I left with my children for about a month. During this time he BEGGED me to come back and promised it would never happen again. I came back, he apologized and stopped for about 2 weeks. It then continued for another 12 months. I was unaware that it was going on for again. During the time that he continued to abuse him (Despite us leaving and him promising to stop.) he and I prayed nightly for our household dynamics to improve WHILE continuing the abuse. I did not know he was still abusing him verbally during this time. When I found out I had to decide whether to stay or move out for good. After much consternation, I decided to stay. The abuse has stopped (its been 10 months) but their relationship is severely damaged, of course.

As I talk to my kids who deal with anxiety and depression from all of the turmoil I am having a hard time forgiving myself for choosing such terrible role models in terms of a father(s). I am also with the man who abused my son behind my back, lied about it, preaches Jesus and Christianity and has not done much to repair the relationship except stop the abuse. I am not sure how to deal with the severe betrayal and complete lack of trust.

I have prayed incessantly and daily this entire year and have fasted to focus on my prayers every other day this year. The situation has not improved much, I feel God telling me to stay but I am hysterical nearly every day and breaking down in anger and sadness constantly. I feel that I am close to a nervous breakdown worrying about my kids. I have NOT lost my faith, but am doubting my decision to stay in my 2nd marriage. Boy, I need help and prayer and will take any sound advice I can get. Thank you all and God bless.
Rachael

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Robert November 26, 2014 at 9:56 am

Hi Rachael,
It is sometimes difficult to “give advice” in a comment section such as this because of the distance that separates us (not physical or geographical distance per se, but the fact that those offering advice are outside of the situation: we only know what you’ve told us, we do not know those involved personally); however, I want to try anyway, because I believe it is what God wants me to do.

First, let me say that the situation you describe sounds heartbreaking. Our spouses are supposed to be the one we are closest to and we should be able to trust them with our lives. It is even more heartbreaking when these types of situations come about in the lives and homes of professing Christians. A Holy Spirit-filled Christian will not behave in a manner contrary to the love of God. Therefore, when we act in hurtful, selfish, arrogant, etc. ways, we are rejecting God’s will for our lives and following our own selfish lusts and desires. When we do this, problems arise in our lives and relationships.

I would suggest that you and your husband speak with your pastor. If you do not have a home church (pastor), I would suggest that you find a Bible-believing church that you can attend and confide in the pastor concerning your situation.

Concerning your inability to forgive yourself, consider this: If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ and are living for Him, HE has forgiven you (of a lot more than just your relationship choices); therefore, you are forgiven…period…let it go. Jesus died on a cross so that your sins could be forgiven; His payment was sufficient to remove your sin and guilt.

Worst case scenario: your husband chooses to continue this abuse…you may have to make some tough choices. However, I say again, you need to confide in someone close to you, someone you can trust who knows the situation. There is always the danger of someone like me (who doesn’t know you or your family well) to give wrong, or even harmful, advice because we do not know you well enough. Please continue to pray, trust God, and seek counsel from someone you can trust near you. With God, all things are possible.

Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Rayanne November 26, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Robert,

I thank you so much for your insight and support. Just knowing that somebody read this and cares really did help me a lot.

Rayanne

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Jack Wellman November 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Amen brother. I hope it is a good idea because many men of God like you simply cannot afford normal tuition. I did my graduate work at Moody Theological Seminary and it is average price seminary in the U.S. and it is $1,554.00 per 3 credit hours which is one course! Ouch! Not sure how I got thru it…, no I do know. God! I am still a bi-vocational pastor sir and feel your pain.

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paul campbell November 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

yes i know brother, but i also believe that God who calls also provides and equips, i am very willing to work anywhere, lots of experience in jobs, done lots of things, spent nearly 20 years working in call centers doing everything from sales/distribution/logistics/trouble shooting/technical support and facilities management, also worked as a cook, worked in factories, even been a picture framer and have made furniture and worked making shoes…anyway i know Paul was a tent maker and maybe Peter still fished to support himself and Jesus was a carpenter…its good to work and to be called and to use our own skills to earn money to grow the kingdom of God and to see people come into relationship with him, so its okay. Anyway i am blessed by your encouragement.

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