Why God Doesn't Seem to Answer Prayer

Good Morning to everyone listening today to our series on the hard questions of life. Grace and Peace in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God Loves you, and I love you, but it God that counts.

Today's hard question is: Why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers?

As a pastor, I hear this question directed to me from time to time. "Why doesn't God hear my prayers?" The question is usually asked during some time of personal crises that a person has been struggling with for a period of time. The time that sticks in my memory the most was when I was in the waiting room of a mental health facility on a pastoral call when a man in the waiting room noticed a wooden cross I wear around my neck. He had the most pathetic and sad look on his face, then he asked, "Are you a pastor?" I said, "yes." He began to weep and proceeded to share his almost hopeless struggle with depression. Through his tears, he said he went to Church and Sunday School and he knows that God answers prayer, but he has been praying for his depression to go away and nothing seems to help. With a sense of desperation in his voice, he asked the question, "Why doesn't God seem to hear my prayers?" At that moment the nurse called his name and he began to go behind the desk into the facility. I quickly handed him my card.

In trying to answer this question I will try to answer:

1) Maybe what we are doing is not prayer at all.

2) We may not be praying at the right time.

3) It may be the wrong person praying.

First, we may be not praying at all. I remember in college behavioral psychology classes an experiment with a rat that was given cocaine every time it pushed down a little bar. Within a day or two that little rat was beating down on that little bar like crazy until it forgot all about eating, drinking or raising his little rat family.

God in his wisdom knows that if prayer were just asking him for what we want and "puff", we immediately get it, most of us in our sinful imperfection would become like our poor little rat friend, banging away like crazy at heavens gate for more and more of what we want with little attention to who God is, what we really need and our responsibility to our family and others. Can you imagine what our world would look like if anything anybody asked for was immediately granted! You talk about chaos!

No, God's purpose in prayer is for us to get to know who he is and his holiness rather than to get God to do our bidding. That does not mean that he will not hear and answer, but his purpose in not to make us happy, but to make himself know to us and others which is true joy and happiness.

Jesus, when asked by his disciples how to pray offers the model of prayer, we know it as the Lords prayer.

(Luke 11:2-4 NIV) He said to them, "When you pray, say: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one."

Now the prayer begins with the relationship, our father. Do you know God as your father when you pray? Are you looking towards God, or are you looking at your problems when you pray? Is he really your father? I know of very few fathers who will listen and care for other people's children. Next, Jesus leads us to pray hollowed be "your father's name" That word, "hallowed" means most special, always right, and different from anything else. Is he most special to you?   I have two beautiful daughters, and when they come to me and say, "Daddy, you're really special and I love you," they will hug me and give me a kiss; they could ask me for the moon, and if it was mine to give I would give it.

Establishing the relationship first is the beginning of prayer! I go back to our poor rat friend. Are you frantically beating on that bar in your cage for what you crave or are you like my little daughters who love their daddy and tell him so? Are your really praying? Or are you just frantically giving orders to God? Brothers and sisters, it makes a difference!

If we return to the prayer model Jesus gave us, we find next we have to be willing to put our father's will first in our life, just like those in heaven. Are we willing to keep our part of the relationship and let him be our Lord and determine what we need and want? I hear it all the time from people, "Preacher, please pray for my such and such situation and I promise to come to church regular." Well, you know what happens most of the time? When by God's grace and mercy their prayer is answered, they disappear until the next crisis! Sooner or later that type of "hit and run" prayer life will come to an end and they will cry, "Why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers?" My answer is because maybe you're not really praying like Jesus says to pray.

According to Jesus, half of our prayers have been prayed and we still haven't come to what "we" ask for. The prayer seems to dwell on "Our Father" and not on "my problems and needs". When is it my turn! Just hold on now, and we will get to it; here it comes! "Give us each day our daily bread." If you ask, "Why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers?", the second problem may be that you are praying at the wrong time. "Give us each day"--prayer is a day by day thing. Its focus is on today. Our prayer needs are experienced in each today, and they will be met in a today. God cannot bring satisfaction to prayer in the past because it is gone forever, and he cannot answer a prayer for the future, because we are not there yet! And when we do get there it is today!

Another problem with misdirected prayers in the past and future is that we will not see the answers to our prayers, because they happen in the today. Many will cry to me, "Pastor, why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers?" After we sit down and go over all their prayers, we find God is listening and answering, but they have been praying in the wrong places; that is, the past and the future, when God hears and answers in the today. Jesus says in, Matthew 6:34 NIV, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Still another part of praying at the wrong time is that because prayer is daily for the today, it means that prayer never ends until it has been satisfied. It must be prayed over and over in each today. Praying last week to your most special Father in heaven is not a prayer! It was a prayer! Today's prayer is a prayer.

Right after Jesus told his disciple how to pray, he compared true prayer to a traveler who comes to a friend's house to stay in the middle of the night. The friend says, "No, the family is in bed and the place is locked." Jesus says the friend will finally answer the door and let him in, not because he is a friend to the traveler, but because the traveler keeps knocking! Keep praying every day! The three shortest verses in the Bible are, "Jesus wept," "rejoice always," and "pray continuously!" Resting on a past prayer is the wrong time for prayer. Pray continuously.  Pray today!

My mother prayed for my salvation and deliverance from alcoholism for 10 years. When I realized I was in bondage to alcohol, I prayed each day I went home, "Please God, let me pass the liquor store and go home!" I prayed each day for two years. Guess what, brothers and sisters, He heard my cry. In faith, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, he led me to where I could get help, and today, glory to God, I have been sober eight and a  half years. But, I had to pray each today for two years!

Are you praying at the right time?--Today, every day!

Finally, when someone says, "Why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers? I will ask, "Are you a righteous person?" The Bible says, in Proverbs 15:29 NIV, "The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous." Are you a "righteous person?"

While I was on an evangelistic mission in Brazil, one of the local pastors asked me to go to the home of a couple having financial problems to pray for them. There was a couple with two young girls in the house. As I looked at the man of the house, the Lord said to me just as clear as day, "This man and woman are not married, and they are living in sin!" When I told them this, the man's eyes got as big as plums, and the woman looked down to the floor. The woman confessed her sin while the man just backed up to the wall with his eyes wide open. The words the Lord gave me for them was that He would not bless them in their state of sinfulness.

"The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous." The good news is that if you become righteous, you will become the right, that is, righteous person to pray and God will hear you. That's the good news.

The bad news, however, in the words of the Great Apostle Paul in Romans 3:10 NIV is, "There is no one righteous, not even one...!" Now some will say, "Preacher, then God will never listen to any of our prayers. That doesn't seem right!" Well, with the bad news of sin comes the Great Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to the question,. "Why doesn't God seem to answer my prayers?" may be that you are unrighteous without the blood of Jesus Christ covering your sinful selfishness and the work of the Holy Spirit in you to make you like him.

We return now to the end of the Lord's prayer, "...Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from [evil] the evil one."

The Bible says in (1 John 1:6-9 NIV), "If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. {7} But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. {8} If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

It is only through our salvation in Jesus Christ that we become righteous before our special father, God, and our prayers are heard. Not only are our prayers heard, but also God, our special father, will send his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to pray for us.

The Bible says, (Romans 8:26-27 NIV) "... the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. {27} And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

Why doesn't God seem to answer your prayers? I would ask:

1) Are you seeking to know God as your hallowed, that is, special father. Or, are you just giving orders to God, while looking at your problems?

2) Are your prayers prayed in today, for today, every day? Or, are you worrying about the future, relying on prayers you prayed in the past?

3) Are you right before God. Or, do your sins go unconfessed while continuing in your sinfulness?

Do you really know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Pray the Lord's prayer in earnest. Seek to know God as your special holy Father. Pray today, for today, everyday. Confess your sin; turn to Jesus Christ for your strength. If you can commit your life to such prayer, I will guarantee that God will begin to hear and to satisfy your prayers; and you will know true joy and happiness. I heard one preacher say, "If, after 90 day of fervent prayer your life isn't changed for the better, I will double your misery back."

Now go pray to God your special father, in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Glory to God, Amen.

Would you like to know Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive eternal life?

I want to know Jesus Christ as my Savior!

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