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When Prayers Go Unanswered

Updated on September 20, 2010

Is God silent?

 If you are a Christian and you have an active prayer life, sooner or later you will experience prayers that go unanswered.  This is not a subject that is often talked about and many people give the impression that it does not occur, but it does.  There are people in the Bible who have had to deal with prayers going unanswered.  Likewise people in the world today are praying prayers and waiting for answers that do not come.  There are many reasons why a person might pray and not get an answer.  I will look at some of them here.


We pray hoping for an answer

But sometimes it seems no answer comes
But sometimes it seems no answer comes

There are many reasons

 1. Delay

     Probably the most common reason prayers go unanswered is that God has not responded YET.  God has a different time frame than we do.  Jesus once told his brothers, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready."  We become impatient when we don't get an answer right away.  But that doesn't mean no answer is coming.  The apostle Peter states that with God "a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day".  I know I don't want to wait a thousand years for an answer.  But to God, linear time is not relevant.  God could be said to recognize only two times--Now and Not Now. 

2. Denial

   The fact is that sometimes God says No.  Usually this is a situation where you already know the answer is No but you keep asking.  God just doesn't answer.  He knows and you know the deal.  His silence is His way of saying, "What part of No don't you understand?"  We see Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asking to get out of going to the cross.  God doesn't answer, because both He and Jesus both know that the whole reason Jesus came to earth was to go to the cross.  They both know the answer is No.  Jesus finally acknowledges this when He says, "Not my will but Thy will be done." 

3. Disobedience

   When you are knowingly and repeatedly sinning it is hard to get God to go along with your plans.  For example, Malachi 3:8-9 God says that people should be paying tithes and if they do not they are robbers and will be cursed financially.  Well if you know this (and now you do) and yet you still continue to disobey God, it is hard to turn around and ask Him to bless you financially and expect Him to do it.  Well, you can, but it probably won't work.  In the same way, God tells us in the Bible that we are to make every attempt to get along with other people and not cause conflict and strife.  If we don't do this, it will hinder our prayers. 


Other reasons

 4. Disagreement

   The prophet Amos said, "how can two walk together unless they agree?"  If you and God are not on the same page, you may not get an answer.  It doesn't mean that you are sinning, only that what you are praying about is not in agreement with God's Word or with God's plans.  You might want to go to Ohio and God plans for you to go to Florida.  One state is not necessarily better than the other.  It is not a sin to go to Ohio.  Maybe you can go there later.  But right now, Florida is the better choice.

5. Different outcome

   God doesn't always do things the way you expect.  In fact, He often does things in ways you least expect Him to do them.  If you are not open to this possibility, you may miss the fact that He HAS answered your prayer.  Remember that God has many avenues that He can use to respond to you.  He can speak through a song on the radio, or through unlikely people, or through weather conditions, or through odd events.  One of my friends prayed to God for a male companion.  She never got an answer.  One day she was gardening with her grandson, who loved to "hang out with Grandma".  Suddenly it dawned on her that this was the "male companion" God had sent. 

These are just some of the reasons why prayers go unanswered.  There are more, and I may deal with them at a later time.  But this may help when you are praying and wondering why you don't hear anything from above.

Unanswered prayers

Have you ever prayed and did not get an answer?

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    • bjspivey-rivers profile image

      bjspivey-rivers 7 years ago

      Hello Dave,

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I suppose that if you look at it from an eternal perspective this is true. Some people have died waiting for answers and I can only imagine they got the answer on the other side. Or that the answer was not what they expected and they didn't know they had received an answer. I say this from both personal experience and from the experience of others I talk to. Even the Bible speaks of people seeking for things that came long after they were gone from this earth.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      No Prayer goes unanswered by God, even if the answer is "NO" Often God awaits the perfect circumstances to provide His answer. He Hopes we will be patient and abide in Him.

      Brother Dave.