Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? (6 Biblical Reasons)

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

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.

 Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers? (6 Biblical Reasons)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.

How ridiculous.

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

  1. You ask for the right things.
  2. You ask for the right reasons.
  3. You have removed the sin from your life.
  4. You believe with all of your heart that God can answer your prayers.
  5. You are actually listening and patiently waiting for an answer.
  6. 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?

 

Join the Discussion

Comment policy: All opinions are welcome here and friendly, edifying debates are encouraged. However, comments that are rude, hateful, malicious, or spammy will be immediately deleted without warning. Your email address will not be shared publicly. 

  1. But remember we also have to ask for the right reasons because not everything will be granted because say if you ask for a bestfriend it would probably offend him because he wants YOU to be his friend and child and family because really all we need is Him in life. God bless!

  2. I suffer from serious depression. My only daughter age 26 and my only granddaughter age 11 passed away September 11,2001. I have never been myself since then. I do believe in the power of prayer. I believe there is a God and Jesus was his son. Nothing has been easy for me. Two failed marriages, living throught a fire that destroyed my entire apartment building but thanks be to God 40 people got out with their lives none lost. I have been in a very tearful last two weeks when I throught I had messed up helping someone with a banking account. I prayed and cried and prayed some more just waiting for the answer of had I entered the correct information. We throught there bank had cancelled the card she was using. No one she called would help her because she was only visiting this country. Was told she had to wait to come into her bank when she returned.. I didn't sleep well thinking what I might have hit wrong. God did hear my prayers and not only did her card work but her deposit of a check cleared and she is good to go. I truly believe it was serious prayer, crying out to God and saying what was in my heart. God heard me and just reenforced what I already knew GOD IS GOOD.

    1. Wow, Mary, you have been through a lot. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter and granddaughter. God does hear our prayers and He is SO good. I am so glad that you know this truth and are calling out to God to share what is on your heart and mind with Him.

    2. Mary I hope you are doing better. Putting God first is so important. I'm trying to learn that if its in God's will, it will happen, even if it's not when I want it to. I really need to be positive & have faith.

    3. Wow what an amazing story and a strong individual you are. I have been through so much in my life but honestly nothing compared to your story
      I feel your pain and loss even though I don’t know you
      I recently lost my best friend my mom
      Devastating

  3. I have been praying for years for god's help, but my life has only gotten worse. I am in my 60's, I have lost loved ones and my only child is living far away in another country and I very seldom hear from him. I don't see any point in carrying on with this miserable exsistents. I am in a very unhappy marriage and I am left to take care of everything which I'm not able to do anymore because of how low I am. Ihave been asking for years for God to help me, to help me feel better mentally so that I can do what needs to be done, I've ask him to help my sick animal, to relieve him from vomiting, but both my mental state and situation and health of my animal have all deteriorated. I will be physically left alone soon and I am so afraid of how I will cope. I don't drive and I don't leave the house. I have to go to vets and it will be a huge effort I know because I have had to do this before. I won't be able to cope financially. I don't even have anyone to dig a grave in the garden to bury my animal when the time comes which is looking like it won't be very long. So even with all the praying I have done everything has gotten far worse. So it's hard to believe that anyone is listening to my prayers and if there is why they don't help me.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with all of this. God does hear our prayers even if He doesn’t always answer them how we want Him to. He may be answering you in a way that you can’t see right now. Reach out to friends, church, or your pastor. You don’t have to go through all this alone.

    2. Praying for the Lord to give you peace and strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philip. 4:13

    3. Hi, I too prayed and prayed and nothing happened, but when I listened to the truth within myself and did the action needed to help myself in my own life, that's when things got better. I know people who died in Covid who had thousands of people praying for them. The Templeton study shows that intercessory prayer is ineffective. What has been effective for me was proper medication, diet/exercise, sunshine, and living a good life. Basically all realistic, grounded things, in the 'natural' order without relying on any miracles. I still pray a lot, but I prayed night and day for 20 years, being extraordinarily righteous and holy, and pure, and charitable, and kind, and that is not what actually got me my salvation. I simply had to help myself and do the common sense things that anyone would do whether there's a God or not. That's what helped me. Get the best vet you can for your animal, for your mental state, get the best doctor with the best reviews you can, and also eat properly and diet and exercise. For your marriage, get the best marriage counselor you can. Incidentally Tony Robbins' courses helped me too as he talks a lot of common sense, but you have to pay for them and its' a lot of upselling. Definitely studying the Bible helped me too, and asking God for _wisdom_ helped. But again relying on miracles didn't help me. When I did what anyone would have to do believer or not to get well, and live a good happy life, that's when things clicked. And Ironically I was very successful and happy before I was a believer too. I saw countless people just praying and wishing their lives would change and it didn't for them either. When people made the actual actionable changes in their life to improve their situation, diet/exercise, medication, counseling, etc…, doing things that are good that enjoyed, living a good ethical life. These things all added up to a better life. _Science_ helped me much more in my experience, than wishful thinking. That's been my experience. I have two friends that were devout and weren't vaccinated who died in Covid. I got vaccinated and I'm fine. Thank God. Good luck and God bless you! (remember God helps those who helps themselves has truth to it, learn how to have a successful good life from people who do and follow suit, from people who are truly happy. They can believe in God and Jesus, but those people inevitably you will find take good intelligent action in their lives to make everything better, indeed all the happy families I know, the people all do their part to make it so, no matter what race, creed, color or religion. Good luck and God bless you. Ask God for wisdom. Again for the mental health, see a good psychiatrist/therapist, and for the marriage, counseling. The best people with phenomenal reviews, not simply any ol' joe schmo. it makes a difference. I prayed for _20_ years night and day with tons of faith, when I stopped believing and started changing that's when everything clicked. I still do believe, I just don't believe God does our work for us. I believe we have to do our work for God. And I mean that in common sense ways too. Best of luck! God bless you! (Don't rely on my blessings or prayers, make the wise and intelligence and good improvements in your life that will get good results in your life… life can be great, get the professional help you need in all regard and find good role models to emulate, Again Good luck and God bless.)

    4. Cindy I can empathize with your situation. I am 66 in kidney failure at the doctors office Friday my blood pressure was in stroke range. My doctor wanted me on medication but the inflation has hit me really hard I have 100 dollars a month for food gas and medicine. I have been through a dozen orthopedic surgeries and two bowel surgeries live in pain daily. I was just told by the young person who cuts my grass he would not be doing it any more and there is no way I can do it I truly am at the end of my rope I don’t know what to do. I feel alone depressed abandoned but I know with out a doubt that Jesus is there and prayed through his father are answered sometimes it’s hard to wait an we want to give up but don’t fall into that trap one day we will meet in heaven having peace all our tears wiped away an done of this will matter. Times are hard for everyone but God doesn’t change an his words don’t come back void. Hold on have faith keep praying.

  4. A child who I'm trying to get back to church and back to believing in God asked me why God doesn't answer her prayers when she cried out to Him as she was raped. She was 8 or 9. She lost her faith after this. It went on for years.

    This doesn't fit into your 6.

    What do I tell her?

    1. I am so sorry to hear that she went through this. It sounds like you are doing a great job of coming alongside of her to encourage and support her. Her question is a really tough question to answer. It may be a good idea to speak to your pastor or women’s ministry leader to get some wisdom and resources from them.

    2. My heart goes out to you and I have the same question.. I know there is a verse about anyone harming one of these little ones… and it being better that they have a millstone hung around their neck and they be drowned in the depths of the sea, but I wish God would step in before the harm was done. Before the woman lost her daughter and grand daughter on 9/11, before this child was raped. There are truly broken hearted people commenting here. People who really do need answers and peace and for God to do what only HE can do. I too am broken hearted for the pain that my 3 twenty somethings are going through. I have never felt less 'heard' as I have cried out desperately for Him to intervene in their lives and feel so abandoned by God. I wonder why we pray, even though I have prayed for years and years. If it's about relationship, I feel betrayed by the Only one who can truly help us. The situational pain seems like it is beyond bearing and yet feeling alone and unheard makes the pain so much worse. Thank you to all of the brave souls who have honestly commented here. I get it.

    3. You tell her that God allowed this and any other hardship that we face so that we will have compassion for others that experience what we have experienced. So that we can empathize with others. Not just feel sorry for them. Who has more sympathy for a drug addict than a drug addict and who cares more about an adopted child than an adopted child . When we live through trauma our best recovery is found in helping others recover.

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