Have you ever felt that God wasn’t answering your prayers? There are reasons why that may or may not be true.
God the Giver
Have you ever felt that God wasn’t answering your prayers? There are reasons why that may or may not be true. God is a giver. He gave the most in His Son, Jesus Christ, so why wouldn’t God bless us and answer our prayers? Jesus said, “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 sounds like God is ready to answer our prayers and supply our needs, so why are some prayers answered and some not? Why does it feel like God sometimes doesn’t hear us? What is going on when it seems like our prayers are not getting any higher than the ceiling? 
If our motives are not aligned with the will of God, or we’re asking for something that will hurt us, like things we’ll overindulge in, God will not answer that prayer. James said, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). This is why it’s so important for us to evaluate our lives from time to time. Are our motives really pure? Do our prayers focus mostly on us? Would this prayer request be for God’s glory or for our own? James tells us here that we must ask with the right motives.
You can have confidence that God will hear and answer your prayers if it’s in His will, and His will is revealed in Scripture. The Apostle John wrote that “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 a great way to do that to be in His Word; finding the will of God in the Word of God.
It’s hard to pray if you know you’re living in sin. Little wonder that John said to us; “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). Breaking God’s commandments will break your confidence in praying to God. It’s just that simple. 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; praying only in emergencies. They willfully spend their time fulfilling their sinful desires and then pray to God when they want something from Him or are in trouble. 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; either in this life or the next.
The Psalmist knew that God is not going to answer the prayers of someone who is willfully sinning against Him. David understood that “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. I seriously doubt many parents would reward a child’s request if that child is constantly disobeying their parents.
God may answer our prayer requests in the exact manner in which we have submitted them, but then again, He may not answer them in the way we expect or in our time frame. In fact, He may even use delayed prayer to teach us patience. Nothing teaches patience like waiting, but we must realize 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. Either way, we know that God is still in control and sovereignly overrides our expectations with His perfect will. 
For Whose Glory?
Jesus said, “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, but that’s a very shallow way of interpreting this verse. 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.”
Not only must we be praying in the will of God, but we must be living according to the will of God. An unholy life will not produce a holy prayer life, nor will it produce effective prayers. In 1 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.”
Even the biblical saints were not immune from the occasional unanswered prayer. The Apostle Paul writes, in 2 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. Paul wrote, “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” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). Paul’s attitude is the attitude that we should strive to exhibit. Even if it seems that God is not answering our prayers, we can be content knowing that He has our best interests in mind (Rom 8:28). In Matthew 26, Jesus prayed three times for the cup of Calvary to be removed, but still said, “may your will be done.” God may not answer because He might have something better for us!
If you have never trusted in Christ, my prayer for you is that God would bring to you repentance and faith in Christ and you’d put your trust in the Savior. If that’s the case, then I will look you up in the Kingdom, a Kingdom that without the righteousness of Christ, no one will see.
Here is some related reading for you: 10 Short Prayers for Protection 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.