Unanswered Prayer In The Bible

Perhaps the most widely read book of the 20th century, The Bible has been translated into 2,800 languages and is owned or rented by over 3 billion people. While offering many timeless stories and precepts, the holy tome is also something of a time-capsule that reflects its original context, including vestiges of an era when prayer was once an active practice.

While many hold a view that God answers prayers, many others no longer believe in such. Whether or not God hears our prayers depends upon one’s own interpretation of scripture. This article will explore some unanswered prayers from the Bible, leaving it up to the reader to determine how much stock we should place in each story and whether or not we should be praying for things like these anymore.

The term “prayer” in the Bible can be a bit misleading. Sure, it seems like prayer is the simplest thing to do on planet Earth. However, with so many variables for prayer, it can get very complex in a very short amount of time. There are several unanswered prayers in the Bible which also makes life a bit difficult for some people.

Unanswered prayer in the Bible is a subject that has been discussed for centuries. A lot of people think that unanswered prayer means there is no God. The opposite is true, when we look at how unanswered prayer is handled in the Bible, it becomes an undeniable argument for God’s existence.

Unanswered Prayer In The Bible

How many Christians have prayed for someone, only to see their prayers go unanswered? How many have prayed and perhaps have “given up” because either they have become discouraged through a weakness of faith or have come to the conclusion that whatever they have been praying for isn’t God’s will? Nevertheless, how we deal with unanswered prayer is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of others as well. When we pray, we are engaging in the most precious and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we are accountable in all our affairs. We have been truly bought at a steep price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and therefore we belong to God.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. In one sense, God answers every prayer with a “yes,” a “no,” or a “wait.” In every case, though, Scripture suggests that our prayers are being dealt with. The Lord Jesus is tender and loving; He loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is unconfessed sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

Unanswered Prayer In The Bible

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

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