Why doesn’t God answer my prayer? Even though I am praying, why does he allow bad things to happen? We will take a look at some sobering scriptures that may shed light on these questions.
Perhaps it is because we are only asking for material things and not really concerned about the kingdom of God. James 4:3 states, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” In the book of Proverbs we read, “The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” (Proverbs 11:23) Are our desires good?
Jesus gave an example of how we could abuse our prayer privileges while Satan was challenging to tempt him. After not eating for 40 days, Satan suggested to Jesus that he command a stone be turned into bread and Jesus refused. Satan also said to Jesus that he should jump off of a roof because God would protect him. Jesus again refused. Jesus’ example teaches us that we are not to jump off of a cliff, place our hand in fire, or step in front of a train, saying, “God will protect me.”
Has God hid himself from us because we have turned to other gods? Other gods could be many things: a house, a car, a career, a hobby or maybe even a person. This could also be said of a nation. What is the mind of the population as a whole? God says, “Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them: so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils, which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.” (Deuteronomy 31:17-18)
Yet again, in Micah, God speaks of hiding his face from the people. “Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.” (Micah 3:4) In addition, He says he will hide his face from us because we forgot God and we show no faith as is described in Deuteronomy. “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and has forgotten God that formed thee. And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.” (Deuteronomy 32:18-20)
Perhaps our prayers are not answered because we do not consider our Father’s words as valuable. We refuse to listen to or read his word. God says, “hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” (Jeremiah 6:19)
Several actions are listed in the book of Deuteronomy that bring about a curse, which could hinder our prayers. Man’s actions bring on the curse, not God. These actions can all be repented for and forgiven through Jesus Christ. “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, (to worship it)* Cursed be the man that setteth light by his father or his mother, (light means dishonor or disgrace)* Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way, (misleads those who cannot see- fig. Or physically)* Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. (Perverts justice)* Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife: (sexual relations)* Cursed be he that lieth with any maner of beast. (Beast cattle, animal)* Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law, Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly. (Strike, beat, scourge, or even kill)* Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” (Deuteronomy 27:15-26) (*Strong’s Concordance)
The phrase “the burden of the Lord” is especially offensive to God and could be a reason for unanswered prayer. As we read in these scriptures, he does not like it. How would we feel if, after giving our all for our children, they were to say to us, what burden do you have for me today? It would be disheartening. “And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD. And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the LORD answered? and, What hath the LORD spoken? And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God. Thus shalt thou say to the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken? But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD; Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.” (Jeremiah 23:33-40) God does not create burdens for his children; our Father brings life and peace. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”(John 10:9-10)
Trusting in man instead of God is an action that can bring about a curse, as is described in the book of Jeremiah.“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.” (Jeremiah 17:5-6) The Lord continues on to describe what action brings about a blessing in our lives. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding “(Jeremiah 17:7-8) What he says next isn’t pleasant to hear. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) He points out again the lowliness of our minds, but he says he searches the heart or mind and then gives us the option to exercise faith. Perhaps things happen to test us, to see if we will trust God or man. “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10)
An additional reason why bad things happen to us and our prayers seem to go unanswered might be found in the book of Job. Job was a close to perfect, upright man who honored God and hated evil. His world crumbled around him, but as verse 1:22 states “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”
Sometimes bad things happen as a test structured by Satan, as it did to Job. “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou has blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to they face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:9-12)
Jesus confirmed in the book of Luke the fact that Satan can bind some people for several years. “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16) Likewise, these words spoken by Jesus to Peter verify that Satan frequently is at the core of our troubles. Being “sifted as wheat” can be an agonizing experience. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32) Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would triumph, which it did, and Peter went on to strengthen countless others.
For the sake of our own soul, some of us may be turned over to Satan. As described in the second chapter of this book, King Manasseh lost everything and was turned over to destruction. Many beautiful people in this world receive an eye opener for their soul by falling to the bottom. Whether it is financial loss, drugs, alcohol, pornography, greed, illness, catastrophe, injury, or love loss, sometimes it takes tragedy to get our attention. Paul writes, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Corinthians 5:5)
The apostle Paul was given a medical condition to keep him “down to earth” in the eyes of the people, so that, as a result of a divine revelation he had been shown, he would not appear too highly in the eyes of man. Paul prayed to God for it to be removed, but God said no. II Corinthians 12:7 explains, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measurer.”
James says to regard it as a privilege when we come into trying situations. We should consider it an opportunity to practice our faith. “My Brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
We need to keep in mind that God does not tempt us. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (James 1:13-14) There are no circumstances that are unique to one individual. God promises he will not let it go beyond what we can tolerate and to show us a way of escape. He promises us, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
A lack of faith may be a reason for unanswered prayer. We read in the scriptures circumstances involving Jesus and faith, such as the women who touched his garment, the touching the eyes of the two blind men, and when Jesus calmed the storm. We learn that a lack of faith offends God, as was confirmed in the words from the book of Hebrews, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Again, unforgiveness is another factor that may be hindering our prayer life. The Lord’s Prayer states, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Jesus said we would be forgiven in the same manner as we forgive. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) When asked, Jesus said in Matthew 18:22 that we are to forgive seventy times seven times. We also read, because of the lack of knowledge or ignorance of the people that Jesus, Steven and Paul forgave without being asked.
Another aspect we may consider looking into if our prayers are not being answered is our relationship with our mate. Peter gave information concerning our marriage relationship. He wrote this concerning marriage and prayer: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (I Peter 1-12)
“Why do our prayers sometimes seem to go unanswered? Why does God allow bad things to happen?” First, bad situations are usually a result of our own actions and decisions. That said, the scriptures we have just covered reveal possible reasons for not receiving a response form God, individually or as a nation. When we lack faith, when we have turned away from God, when we are being tested, when we are unforgiving, when we have been turned over to Satan, when we have created a sin-induced curse, or in order to keep us from being too highly exalted, God’s answer may be unresponsive or no to our request.
From My Pray Book by S.L. Honeycutt