5 Biblical Reasons for Unanswered Prayer

By June 6, 2024 No Comments

Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.

Have you ever prayed for something only for it to be left unanswered?

Many of us have something on our hearts that we are seeking God’s response for: the declining health of a loved one, financial stability, or the salvation of a child. So why does God sometimes not answer our prayers?

Why Is My Prayer Going Unanswered?

Perhaps your motives aren’t right. James 4:3, NKJV says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” We spend time asking God for things, but it very well could be that what we are asking for does not align with His Kingdom.

Maybe our prayers are going unanswered because what we ask falls outside God’s will for our lives. Whenever we talk to God and make requests of Him, we must ensure that we operate within the parameters of His will. Otherwise, we risk a life of idolatry and standing in a place in which we are the gods of our lives.

Are you married? Quite possibly, the reason you can’t hear from God is that you are in the midst of marital conflict. You may think the tension in your marriage has nothing to do with your prayers. However, scripture deems otherwise. 1 Peter 3:7, NKJV says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Dwell with your spouse in understanding and compassion so that your prayers may be considered by God!

Throughout God’s word, we see examples of men and women who are waiting for God’s response. We can also glean many reasons why God might remain silent.

Reasons For Unanswered Prayer

God is faithful to bend His ear to His children whenever they call for Him. However, He doesn’t always answer in the time or way we expect Him to, and one passage of scripture gives insight into why.

Isaiah’s Assignment

Isaiah, a prophet of God, has been assigned the task of preaching and prophesying to Judah. This is crucial because Judah was divided from the nation of Israel. In the first part of Isaiah, God rebuked Judah because of their sin, and now we are entering the half where Isaiah tells them that God is a God of second chances.

Saints, are you thankful that God doesn’t cut you off but faithfully gives us new mercies to get things right? However, as we wait, let’s consider five biblical reasons for unanswered prayer.

5 Reasons Our Prayers Aren’t Answered

I recently experienced hearing loss in my left ear. So before making an appointment with my doctor, I decided to go to CVS to inquire if they had a remedy for my ailment. Upon finding the ear care section of the drugstore, I discovered rows and rows of medicines for those with ear problems. (And my first thought was, “Either this city is filled with people who hear perfectly, or there are many who are struggling like I am!”) I picked up a remedy for those with a buildup of wax, and wouldn’t you know, that alleviated my concern!

Isaiah 59:1 in the NKJV says:

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,

That it cannot save;

Nor His ear heavy,

That it cannot hear.”

We must understand and acknowledge that God has the capacity to correct what is broken in our lives, and He never stops listening when His children cry out to Him! Yet, because of our human nature, there are roadblocks as to why our prayers may not be answered.

We Are Sinful (vs. 2)

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;

And your sins have hidden His face from you,

So that He will not hear.”

Isaiah 59:2, NKJV

Your sins have separated you from God and have caused you to be in a posture where God cannot hear you. Because of your actions and secrets, which are all opposite of God’s will, He has to turn His face away from you!

Bloody Hands (vs. 3a)

“For your hands are defiled with blood,

And your fingers with iniquity;

Your lips have spoken lies,

Your tongue has muttered perversity.”

Isaiah 59:3a, NKJV

Twenty years ago, a married couple in my congregation became pregnant. However, during the pregnancy, it was discovered that the baby would have life-altering congenital disabilities, so the woman’s doctor urged her to have an abortion. Well, after much counsel and prayer, the couple decided to keep the baby, and when he was born, he did have much trouble, and he only lived to be six hours old. However, the mother gave him a chance.

When Isaiah talks about our hands being defiled with blood, it is referring to the shedding of innocent blood. I am so troubled by how our country and communities are perceiving the act of abortion. This culture is protesting and demanding the right to kill our children. When Christians support this agenda, it grieves the heart of God.

God loves babies. God loves children. God loves life.

Lying Lips (vs. 3b)

“For your hands are defiled with blood,

And your fingers with iniquity;

Your lips have spoken lies,

Your tongue has muttered perversity.”

Isaiah 59:3b, NKJV

How many lies have you spoken in your lifetime?

God warns us about being considerate of always speaking the truth. We should always be honest, even if it means we will get hurt. In fact, the God of the universe is always listening to our conversations and, in His sovereignty, remembers when we aren’t being truthful. Saints, when you talk, God is listening, and when our lips have spoken lies or our tongues have spoken perversity, He will not answer our prayers.

No Call For Justice (vs. 4a)

No one calls for justice,

Nor does any plead for truth.

They trust in empty words and speak lies;

They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.”

Isaiah 59:4a, NKJV

Recently, I had the incredible privilege of traveling to Montgomery, Alabama. While I was there, I visited the Legacy Museum. (If you’ve ever been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., just imagine that the Legacy Museum is the African American Museum on steroids.) The objective of this museum isn’t to highlight the successes of African Americans but rather to reflect on the pain that people of color have experienced in the Civil Rights Era and highlight how they were treated by the majority. As I witnessed this museum’s work, my reflections concluded that I don’t know if I could have handled my family being ripped apart or my children being treated with such hatred. It broke my heart apart to think about what my ancestors went through.

Sadly, we live in a nation that only calls out the injustices that social media deems a hot topic at the time. The moral downfall of an unjust legal system, criminal system, and majority of our police needs to be highlighted. As God’s children, we are called to speak up against those things we see that aren’t right in the eyes of God.

The Failure to Speak Truth (vs. 4)

“No one calls for justice.

Nor does any plead for truth.

They trust in empty words and speak lies;

They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.”

Isaiah 59:4, NKJV

Recently, my wife, Trina, was watching a reel on Instagram. It showed a mother and her little boy sitting on her lap, talking about this and that. Suddenly, the little boy leans over to his mother and says matter-of-factly, “Your breath stinks! What did you eat today, mama?” Isn’t it refreshing to witness our children telling the truth, no matter what the circumstances are?

We live in a country where our churches, religious leaders, and politicians don’t speak the truth. Unfortunately, many people in this country embrace current lies for truth, and Christ’s church is not immune from that.

Ephesians 4:15, NKJV says, “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.”

Saints, believing in the enemy’s lies of our time will only leave you deceived and unguarded. I plead with you to search the holy scriptures and correct any misleadings you hear with God’s word. For when we choose to lean into worldly opinion and “truth”, it affects God’s ability to listen to our prayers. (Psalms 66:18)

For more on why our prayers go unanswered, watch Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.’s sermon, Unanswered Prayer.

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