Five Reasons God May Not Be Answering Your Prayers by J. D. Greear

Every Christian I know struggles with the reality of unanswered prayer. If you don’t, then either (1) you’ve been a Christian for about 10 minutes or (2) you’re lying.

In general, unanswered prayer is a tension we need to accept, allowing it to move us to deeper trust in God and greater persistence in prayer. But in specific cases, there are a host of reasons God might not be answering your prayer.

Here are five reasons God may not be answering your prayers (this list isn’t exhaustive):
1. You are not right with God.
There are many beautiful promises in Scripture that God makes about the power of prayer. But all of them apply only to those walking in fellowship with him. Nowhere in Scripture do we find God say that he will hear and answer the prayer of an unbeliever. Quite the opposite: Psalm 66:18, for instance, says that if we cherish sin in our hearts, the Lord will stop up his ears when we pray to him.
Does God sometimes hear and answer the prayers of unbelievers? Yes, I believe he does, because his compassion and graciousness are astounding. But the only people he promises to hear are his children.

2. Something in you needs to change.
James writes, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3 ESV). In other words, sometimes God doesn’t grant us our request because we ask with the wrong motives. Even if the thing we’re asking for may be good—in its own right—God doesn’t want to honor a heart asking from the wrong motivation.
As an example of this, I was talking with a couple in our church who had an estranged relationship with their son. They had prayed for years that he would change and return to them, and they couldn’t understand why God wouldn’t answer their prayer. But the longer they prayed, the more God revealed to them that they had pushed him away. To reconcile the relationship, God had work he wanted to do in the people praying, not in the people being prayed about.

Unanswered prayer can be one of God’s tools for purifying us. We think we need deliverance from our circumstance. But God knows that what we need most is Christlikeness. To get us there, he often has to tell us, “No.”

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Source: Church Leaders