Unanswered Prayers: Common Reasons Why
By Dr. Dale A. Robbins
One of the greatest benefits afforded to every Christian is the privilege
of answered prayers. In the Bible, Jesus made this tremendous promise, And whatever
things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Matt 21:22). However, despite
the Lords willingness to answer prayer, it is obvious that some prayers have gone
unanswered. Why is this? The following are the most common reasons why some prayers do not
1. Lack of Fellowship with God and His
John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words
abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
Unanswered prayers are sometimes a result of absence
from fellowship with the Lord and His Word. Jesus promised that if we would remain in His
fellowship, and allow His Word to remain in us, this would produce results in prayer.
2. Not seeking to Please the Lord
1 John 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive
from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His
Answers to prayer come when we seek to keep His
commandments and please the Lord with our life. This is not to suggest that we
earn answered prayers, any more than we can earn salvation which comes only by
faith (Eph. 2:8-9). He answers our prayers from his grace and
mercy (Heb. 4:16), not merely from our good deeds. However, keeping His
commandments and pleasing the Lord is a product of our obedience to His word, which is
faith in action (James 2:20). What are His commandments? He commanded that we are to love
the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourself (Mark
12:30-31). Further, Jesus said we are to love our brethren as He has loved us. This
is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). Lack
of love, bitterness, unforgiveness is the root of many unanswered prayers, since faith
works by love (Gal 5:6).
3. Unconfessed Sin in Ones Life
1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on
the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against
those who do evil.
There is no doubt that sin will disrupt the flow of
Gods blessings and answers to prayer. The psalmist, David wrote, If I regard
iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psa. 66:18). All acts of rebellion and
disobedience to God is considered sin. Sins of commission, are those overt
acts which are done in disobedience. However, sins of omission, are those
things we dont do in obedience, but know we should (James 4:17). The remedy for all
sin is to confess it to God, forsake it, and ask Him to forgive you (1 John 1:9).
4. Improper Motives
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because
you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Our motives in our prayer requests are of concern to
the Lord. He wishes to help us in our time of need, but is not obligated to answer prayers
which will merely feed our carnal, worldly appetites and (lustful) pleasures. Our motives
and desires can be corrected by humbling ourselves, and drawing near to God (James
5. Not asking in Gods will
1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that
we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know
that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked
God will only answer those prayers that are in
His will. When we ask anything that is in His will, we can have assurance that
those petitions (requests) are granted to us. Gods will is revealed
through His Word, the Bible. Anything promised by His Word is His will, and we can be
confident that Hell honor our prayers based on His Word.
6. Dont know how to pray
Luke 11:1 "...Lord, teach us to pray...
Some lack effectiveness in prayer simply because
they dont know what the scriptures teach about prayer. Jesus gave His disciples an
outline for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Take the time to study it. Other passages teach that
prayer is primarily to be a private, intimate time with the Lord (Matt. 6:6), to be
intermingled with praise and thanksgiving (Acts 16:25, Phil. 4:6). Times of fasting with
prayer are beneficial to strengthen our faith and power in prayer (Acts 14:23, 1 Cor.
7:5). Jesus often went to secluded places to spend prolonged periods in prayer (Luke 6:12,
7. Lack of Faith
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is
impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is
a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We cannot please God without faith. Prayer is not
merely begging from God. It is believing God and His Word! Faith
will come forth and grow as we devote our attention to the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Our
faith can also be built up, by praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
8. Misunderstanding of Faith
Mark 11:24 Therefore I say to you, whatever
things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Many do not understand that faith is believing in the reality of things, even though we
cannot see them (Heb. 11:1). Jesus said that when you pray, you must believe
that you receive your answer at that moment. The word, receive
comes from the Greek word, LAMBANO, which means to receive now (present
tense). He then says we will have them. "Have" comes from, ESOMAI,
which means to possess later (future tense).
9. Wavering faith
James 1:6-7 But let him ask in faith, with no
doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For
let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
There are those who allow every wind of
feelings or circumstances to influence or discourage their faith. They vacillate back and
forth, like the waves tossed about in the sea. One day they believe, but the next,
theyre ready to give up, and so forth. Such persons usually base their faith on
their feelings or emotions instead of Gods Word. They who waver in their faith
cannot expect to receive anything of the Lord. Our faith must become stable,
steadfast, and consistent to receive from God.
10. Failure to apply spiritual Authority
Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you,
whoever says to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in
his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he
There are times that some prayers may not get far
until we incorporate the spoken authority of the name of Jesus. The reason for this is
that the problems we face may sometimes be a product of an evil spiritual
origin. As Paul writes, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against
spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). In such cases, our
prayers may need to engage in what we call spiritual warfare to obtain
The need for this type of prayer is most obvious
whenever Christians deal directly with demonic activity. For this evil operation to cease,
our prayers need to include the exercise of spiritual authority against the devil in the
name of Jesus, commanding him to leave (Acts 16:18). Therefore, as Jesus indicated, there
will be times that we may need to literally speak to mountains (symbolic of obstacles and
problems) and tell them to move in Jesus name.
11. Lack of Perseverance
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while
doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Probably the greatest reason that some prayers go unanswered is because many give-up praying and believing before they receive their answer. As long as we have the promise of Gods Word, be patient and persistent - keep believing, and dont quit, no matter how long it takes! God has a due season when He will bring the answer to pass.
This article (VL-126) is copyrighted © by Dale A. Robbins, 1990, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. This writing is also available as an attractive tri-fold pamphlet, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us.