In this article, we present five reasons (of many) as to why God may not answer someones prayers. To begin with, and this cannot be stressed enough, God does answer prayers for those who truly and deeply follow Him. Yet, He does not always answer yes. The simplest understanding of this is that God gives one of three answers when we pray: Yes, no, or not yet.
Sometimes God answers our prayers whereas at other times, He does not. God is not like Jim Carey in the movie Bruce Almighty who becomes God for a day. He pushes the “Yes button” and indiscriminately answers everyone in the world’s prayers simultaneously. We do not recommend this movie, but it makes a good point here. Everyone on earth received exactly what they asked for and then all hell broke loose. Millions of people won the lottery and were elated, but they only received penny each because so many people won. Chaos and anger ensued. People became angry at God for how things turned out.
God does not work this way. He is a good Father who is tuned into our lives, and He knows what we need. Being eternal wisdom and knowledge, our loving Lord knows perfectly what is best for us at each and every moment with crystal clarity. Moreover, His Fatherly desire is to give to us only that which is good and beneficial to our eternal souls.
When God says No
When I was a teenager, I remember my baby brother crawling towards the hot stove to touch it. He was curious. However, he was also in route to burn himself. Being a good big brother, I pulled him away from the hot stove and said “No!” “Hot!”
As soon as the baby was at a safe distance, he was released back to the floor. Immediately, he began crawling back to the stove and had a meltdown when he was pulled away again. He did not understand why he was being prevented from touching something he just wanted to explore.
The baby saw what he wanted, and I knew much more perfectly that it would hurt him. God works in the same way with us. He sees things that we do not, and He understands perfectly what is good for us – even when we don’t.
If God had answered my prayers and let me date half of the girlfriends I desired, I would be miserable today. While I was angry at God here and there, I am now very thankful that God did not allow me to possess those things which were not good for me. After all, I may have never met my wife!
In short: God does say yes, and He does answer prayers. However, He also says no but always for a good reason.
When God Says Not Yet
Another possibility remains that God intends to answer your prayer – but not yet. This could be for a variety of reasons. For example, I was not allowed to ride my bike in the street when I was a child; however, that changed as I grew older.
Additionally, I spent many painstaking years trying to figure out my vocation. There were times when I beat my head against the wall begging for an answer.
I realize now, in hindsight, that the reason God did not reveal it to me was because it was not time. To be fair, I knew in my heart, but often doubted. The truth is that I was not prepared, not ready, and my wife wasn’t ready either. However, over time, it became clear.
Many of us grow up with confusion. We receive different messages from our parents, friends, and from other influences. This prevents us from hearing God clearly, and this increases our anxiety and we begin worrying too much. It clouds our minds.
Do not fall for the common mistake of feeling that God is not listening. He absolutely is, and He is invisibly guiding you on your path, whether you feel it or not.
If our loving Lord is giving a “No” for some reason, it means it is not good for you, so stop holding on to it. Too many people lose their faith because “God doesn’t answer their prayers” the way that they want.
However, this is a very immature spiritual life. God is not Santa Claus, and we cannot treat Him as Santa Claus, just making a list of things we desire and expecting Him to fulfill that list (like an Amazon order).
Analogously, God is not a genie in a bottle. He is not an almighty vending machine giving us exactly what we request. It does not work that way, even if we feel we need something important.
It all starts with having a real, deep relationship with God. If you want you prayers answered more often, or, an understanding of why He does not answer yes, come to know God on a much deeper level. Develop a meaningful relationship with Him. (Again, see our prayer series which will greatly aid you in this and which will reveal the other reasons God doesn’t answer prayers.
When Sin is the Problem
Growing up, I dressed in all black, carried weapons, and wanted to hurt people. Extreme anger and sadness ruled my life. That was after many, many years of praying for God to come into my life and help me. That was also before Jesus finally turned my life upside down and backwards for the better.
Throughout my life, very few prayers were answered. It is a very frustrating experience. Important to note is that I was going to church and praying on the one hand, and also hating people and wanting to hurt them on the other. I was full of sin and anger, depression and confusion.
I longed for God to come into my life, but He had no room. My heart was so full of many other things. My spiritual life was only being lived halfway. It’s not magic.
The Bible is clear that we need to have great faith and really live out that relationship with Christ Jesus to know Him and have Him work in our lives.
Sometimes it is sin that blocks us from the life of God and from receiving answers to our prayer. If we have a particular sin or addiction in our life, it builds a wall between us and God. If you are in mortal sin, that is also an obstacle between you and God.
Even small sins built up over time can build a wall. They have been described as pestilences in our soul eating away at the life of God within us. Remember, every time we choose sin, we are choosing to walk away from God, and many times, these have repercussions in our spiritual life.
Thus, we must work hard to uproot the large sin in our life, and then the smaller ones. The more we do so, the more God will have room to move in as He did in my life when I prayed more and sought Him with all my heart.
If you have not been to confession in a while, or if you have not confessed your sins to God recently, now is the time. Then get to work fixing the sins and making a plan to remove them from your life.
Praying for God’s Will!
Saints have said that we should always be praying for God’s will, and for a knowledge of what that will is in our life. The closer we come to Jesus, the less we will be praying to win the lottery, to have a new car fall into our lap, or to be the most popular person in class.
Rather, we will seek out how we can please God, follow His commandments, and have a knowledge of His will. We should pray often that we can align our wills to God’s. Then, we are much more likely to know God and the right things to pray for.
In other words, we wouldn’t pray for a million dollars or for a new car; instead, we would pray for things we need. Also, when we get closer to God, we are avoiding sin. This helps us to see things more clearly that we couldn’t see before.
I cannot tell you the amount of times I believed God wasn’t listening to me, or that He was purposely not answering my prayers, even though I felt close to Him. However, over time, by persevering in prayer and humbling myself before Him, God often reveals to me the reason. And guess what?
It always makes sense. God is always right. He always knows. We who cannot even see the future three seconds from now often think we know better than God, but we do not. Giving up in prayer is the road to destruction. Giving up on God because we think He is not listening is the path to the dark side, and that is the devil’s biggest lie that he will whisper into your mind.
The reality is that God loves you. If you are trying to follow Him with all of your heart, then He is leading you, despite our stubbornness and refusal to listen or acquiesce and obey. Yet, He is still there. Our Loving Lord still knows everything about you and has your goodness in mind. Continue to draw closer to Him and you will see Him working more in your life.
Check out our prayer series to go into far more depth.