Have you ever wondered, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” It isn’t because He’s not listening or He doesn’t care. Here are 6 Biblical reasons why God doesn’t answer prayers every time.
Have you ever prayed fervently for something or someone — only for God to completely ignore your unanswered prayers?
Perhaps you’re praying for unanswered prayers right now, and you’re wondering, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Does prayer work?”
It’s completely frustrating when God hears our prayers then doesn’t answer them, isn’t it? Especially when there are so many encouraging Scriptures about answered prayer.
Scripture about Answered Prayer
After all, the Bible doesn’t include just one Scripture about answered prayer. It has several Bible verses that assure us: God answers prayers!
Take a look at these Bible verses about answered prayer, for example:
- Mark 11:24
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
- 1 John 3:22
“And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”
- 1 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.”
- John 15:7
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
- John 14:13-14
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
These Bible verses about answered prayer assure that God hears our prayers, God answers our prayers… He is truly a God who answers prayer.
So why doesn’t God answer prayers? Why do these Scriptures about answered prayer not ring true in our lives? Why are we left wondering, “Does prayer work?” “Does God hear our prayers?” and “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers when I ask?”
Why do we still have so many unanswered prayers?
Does Prayer Work? Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?
The good news is: God answers prayers. BUT… there is a catch. And it all depends on how you look at it.
For example, if you are wondering “Does prayer work?” “Does God answer all prayers?” or, more specifically, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” you can think of it one of two ways:
You can say: “No, God doesn’t answer all prayers. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many unanswered prayers…” And that’s totally understandable. Unfortunately, there are many prayers we pray that will never be answered the way we want them to.
OR you can say: “God answers prayers… BUT God answers prayers in His own time and not always in the way we ask. Just because I’m still wondering why God doesn’t answer prayers doesn’t mean He won’t ever.”
It’s all about your mindset.
You see, we typically think of God giving us one of three answers: Yes, No, and Not Yet, and only one of those answers to unanswered prayer is acceptable to us!
Yet, this fantastic article on ways God answers prayers lists 14 (!) different ways God answers prayers, including:
- Yes, But You Aren’t Paying Attention
- The Substitute Yes
- The Partial Yes
- Are You Sure?
- No, But Refocus
- No, But You’ll Thank Me Later
- No, And Stop Being Ridiculous
So if you’re wondering, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” chances are He either already has or is currently working on it. God hears our prayers and God answers prayers. We just don’t always notice or like the answer.
6 Biblical Reasons Why God Doesn’t Answer Prayer
So if God hears our prayers and God answers prayers, why doesn’t God answer prayers the way we want Him to? Why does He say “No,” leaving us to wonder, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”
It isn’t to be mean or because He doesn’t care. Here are 6 reasons why God doesn’t answer prayers the way we want.
(Perhaps if you understand the specific reasons why the God who answers prayer hasn’t answered your prayer, your unanswered prayers won’t seem so bad.)
1. You Are Asking For The Wrong Things
“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.” –1 John 5:14-15
In this Scripture about answered prayer, we are assured that “if we ask anything according to His will … we have the requests.” That’s a powerful promise! It’s important to note, however, that our requests have to be in accordance to His will.
We can’t just pray for whatever we want and simply tack “in Jesus’s name. Amen” on the end. And we can’t pray for things that are contrary to God’s will for our lives or contrary to His will for other people’s lives either.
For example, if you pray for a certain promotion or job opportunity, and God has already decided someone else needs the opportunity more, the answer will be “no,” “not yet,” or “here’s something else instead.”
Again, this isn’t because God doesn’t care about our unanswered prayers. It’s because He knows much more than we do, and His way is always best.
Instead of asking “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” perhaps you should ask, “What does God want me to pray for in the first place?”
Key takeaway: Rather than always praying for what YOU want, pray for what GOD wants.
For example, “God what do YOU want me to pray for today? What plans do YOU want to accomplish, and how can I help bring YOUR plans to fruition?” or at least a good “if it’s your will God, let it be so.”
Or you can simply let your needs be known and ask Him to guide the situation however HE thinks best.
2. You Are Asking For The Wrong Reasons
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” –James 4:3
Just the other morning, I saw an article online where someone was trying to prove that God doesn’t exist because they couldn’t pray for everyone in the world to not have cancer and have it magically happen immediately.
God is not a genie, prayer is not a magic spell, and God does not answer to us as though we were His boss, giving Him orders!
If you are using your prayers as a way to test whether or not God is real, is good or can be trusted, those are not God-honoring prayers. If your prayers all center around helping yourself get ahead or making your life more comfortable or pleasant, those are not God-honoring prayers. And we can’t be surprised when God doesn’t answer prayers like these.
Sure, He might. But I can’t imagine they are top on His priority list.
Maybe the reason you’re still wondering, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” is because you’re praying with selfish, self-centered motives. (It happens to the best of us!)
Key Takeaway: Examine your heart before you pray.
WHY are you asking for the things you are? Are you hoping to build yourself up? Or are you truly seeking God and His will for your life no matter what?
3. There is Sin in Your Life
“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” –John 9:31
This Scripture about answered prayer makes a lot of sense to me. If we refuse to listen to God, why should He listen to us? How can I be angry at God for not answering my prayers if my life is full of sin?
Sure, He might answer our unanswered prayers. OR He might use the situation as a wake-up call we’re desperately needing.
Would you really blame Him?
Maybe instead of asking “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” the question we should really be asking is, “Why aren’t I listening to God?”
And this counts for sins you’re consciously aware of, as well as sins you have committed in the past and forgotten all about. Plus, even generational curses you may have on you and your family due to the sins or addictions of your parents/grandparents.
That’s a whole different topic that’s too much to get into today, but it is a factor.
(See also: Deuteronomy 1:45, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Job 35:13, Psalm 34:15, Psalm 66:18, Psalm 145:19, Proverbs 15:29, Proverbs. 28:9, Isaiah 1:15, 1 John 3:22.)
Key Takeaway: We can’t refuse to listen to God, then expect Him to answer all our unanswered prayers.
4. You Don’t Have Enough Faith
“And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” –Matthew 21:21
How amazing would it be if we could seriously tell a mountain to move and it would do it?
(Or a chocolate fudge brownie to appear and it would — that’s probably what I’d do! lol)
You know, I’ve been wondering lately why the early apostles had so much power to make miracles happen, and yet we don’t see miracles happen nearly so often today. I think I have a guess as to why: We don’t have the faith the apostles had.
When I pray for things, I *hope* they will happen, knowing full well that they might not. I certainly don’t go around loudly proclaiming things and speaking things into existence. And yet, this is exactly what the apostles did. And it worked.
So if you’re still wondering “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” it may be because you don’t truly believe God answers prayers.
Key Takeaway: Ask yourself: “Do I truly believe that God hears our prayers and God answers prayers — even when when God doesn’t answer prayers the way I’d like Him to?”
5. You Aren’t Listening
Man, we Americans are busy people. Always running from place to place, doing a hundred things at once. Kind of makes it difficult to take time to stop and truly listen for God’s still, small voice, doesn’t it?
So, what if God has given you the answer to your prayers but you’ve been rushing around so much you didn’t even notice?
(Or perhaps, you DID hear His answer, but you didn’t like it very much, so you just keep asking and asking, hoping to hear something else instead)
Have you taken time in the still and quiet to really listen to His voice? Or are you too busy rushing around trying to solve all of your problems yourself, without so much as stopping for a minute to hear from Him?
Instead of asking “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” maybe we should try asking, “Has God already answered my prayers and I missed it?”
Key Takeaway: When God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you hope, don’t forget to listen for the answer He’s giving you instead.
Related: Struggling to Read the Bible Consistently? Here are 7 Reasons Why
6. You Haven’t Asked
What if, when the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing,” God expects us to do exactly that?
The truth is, most of us spend FAR more time talking about our problems or asking “Does prayer work?” than we spend taking our unanswered prayers to the God who answers prayer!
Have you prayed about your problems as much as you’ve talked about them?
And once you asked, did you wait and allow God the time and space to actually do something about them? Or did you just barge ahead full steam, trying to find a solution to your problems yourself, without Him?
Perhaps the question isn’t “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” or even “Does prayer work?” but “Why aren’t I patient enough to wait for the God who answers prayer?”
Key Takeaway: Don’t give up when God doesn’t answer your prayers right away. Keep praying and seeking HIS will for your life!
So Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?
Okay, let’s recap real quick! Does God answer all prayers?
Yes, God hears our prayers and God answers prayers… BUT God answers prayers in his own time and in His own way.
According to the Scripture about answered prayer we read above, God answers prayers when…
- You ask for the right things.
- You ask for the right reasons.
- You have removed the sin from your life.
- You believe with all of your heart that God can answer your prayers.
- You are actually listening and patiently waiting for an answer.
- You are sitting down and spend quality time with God asking for what you need.
BUT just because God hears our prayers and God answers prayers in His own time, that doesn’t mean He always says “yes.”
Sometimes God says “No,” “Not Right Now,” or “Not in the Way You’d Hoped.”
And when when God doesn’t answer prayers the way we’d hoped, it’s up to us to trust that God loves us, His way is best, and He knows what He’s doing.
When was the last time you were disappointed by unanswered prayer? Have you ever considered why God doesn’t answer prayers the way you hoped?