A woman praying in the shadows.

7 Reasons Why Our Prayers Are Not Answered and What to Do About It

Some days it’s difficult for me to hold onto my faith and continue to pray . . . while living with a chronic illness that won’t go away.  

After years of praying and praying for healing . . . and hearing nothing, it sometimes feels like God isn’t answering my prayers.  

But is that really true? 

Are there prayers that God will not answer? 

Or is He just not answering my prayers the way I want Him to? 

One of the hardest things to face in life is when our prayers go unanswered, and the situation gets worse.

In those moments, when our hearts are broken, and the tears won’t stop flowing . . . more than anything we want to know why.  

What to do when your prayers seem unanswered.

If you’re wondering what to do when your prayers are not answered, the first step is to spend even MORE time in prayer.  

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what’s going on. Ask Him to soften your heart and open your mind to hear His response.

And ask Him to help you see if there is a reason for the silence.  

The side view of a woman praying, and the words, "Are there prayers that God will answer? Or is He just not answering my prayers the way I want Him to?"

What are some reasons God does not answer our prayers?

The truth is there are some reasons why our prayers are not answered. It’s not because God doesn’t love us. And it’s not because He doesn’t want to.  

It’s because God knows so much more than we do. And there may be some things in our life that need attending to.  

The following 7 reasons why our prayers are not answered help us see what God is trying to show us through unanswered prayers. And what we need to do about it.

Some reasons for unanswered prayers are:

  • 1) We aren’t really Christians.  
  • 2) We’re involved in sin.  
  • 3) We refuse to forgive.  
  • 4) We’re asking with the wrong motives.  
  • 5) We don’t believe God will answer.  
  • 6) It’s not God’s will.  
  • 7) We expect God to answer our prayers a certain way. 

While it may bother us to know there are reasons why some prayers are not answered, we can trust that God knows what is best for us. And if He is not answering our prayers . . . then there’s a good reason.  

1) We aren’t really Christians.

Sometimes the reason God doesn’t answer our prayers is that we aren’t really Christians.  

The scary truth is there are many people who profess to be Christians. They go to church. They serve and give to those in need. They may even read the Bible and pray.  

They act like Christians, and they may believe they’re Christians. But their hearts are far from God.   

Just like standing in a garage doesn’t make someone a car. Week after week, sitting in a church pew doesn’t make someone a Christian.  

What makes a person a Christian is that they’ve recognized their sin and their need for Jesus. They’ve accepted His gift of forgiveness and salvation. And they’ve entered a personal, intimate relationship with Him.  

They strive to get to know God better. And spend their days finding ways to stay connected with Him.  

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

-Matthew 7:21-23 NIV
Skies over clouds. And the words, "Are we depending on what we see? Or on the God who can see everything?"

2) We’re involved in sin.

Sometimes God isn’t answering our prayers because we have unconfessed sins we need to deal with.  

If we feel like God is being silent then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything we need to take care of.  

God’s first priority is restoring us into a love relationship with Him. And He can’t do that until we confess and repent of our sins.  

A great example of this is the sin of pride.  

Jesus told a parable of a tax collector and a Pharisee. The Pharisee was full of pride and God didn’t accept his prayer. The tax collector knew He was a sinner and humbled himself before God . . . and God accepted his prayer. (Luke 18:9-14) 

Just like every good father, God knows that sometimes He needs to discipline us.  

But His discipline is for our good.  

To convict us of sin we need to turn from. To test us so we can see what’s really in our hearts. (Are we depending on what we see or on the God who can see everything?)  

And teaching us to seek Him more fervently.  

Because He is what we need more than anything.  

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” 

-Isaiah 59:1-2 NIV

3) We refuse to forgive.

Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and love others. But we aren’t really loving others if we refuse to forgive them.  

God knows that unforgiveness will slowly destroy us. It will cause bitterness and resentment to build up in us. Poisoning us from the inside out.  

This is why God tells us to forgive.  

Vengeance is His. (Romans 12:19) We need to trust Him to deal with the other person and deliver justice in His perfect way and timing.  

We need to remember He has forgiven us for everything we have ever done and will ever do wrong. (See Matthew 18:21-35.)  

And we need to remember that we aren’t doing this alone.  

He will help us.  

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” 

-Mathew 11:25 NIV
The side view of a woman with her hands folded in prayer and held to her forehead. And the words, "Seek God fervently. Because He is what you need more than anything."

4) We’re asking with the wrong motives.

Sometimes we ask for things out of our own selfish desires. Rather than for the good of others or for the good of God’s Kingdom.  

God isn’t going to honor a request that isn’t within His will for our life or this world. And He loves us too much to give us what would ultimately be bad for us.  

God cares way more about our character than just giving us what we want. And He knows that the best thing for us is to root out any sin or selfish desire that is keeping us from Him. 

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” 

-James 4:3 NIV
A woman praying next to an end table with a Bible and a bouquet of small white flowers. And the words, "Sometimes we just have to choose to trust God."

5) We don’t believe God will answer.

If I’m honest, this is one I struggle with. It’s not that I don’t believe God can. It’s that I doubt He will.  

Sometimes this can even cause us not to even bother asking. (James 4:2) Because we think, “Well, it’s not like He’s going to answer anyway.” 

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.” 


But we must remember God is sovereign. He sees and knows so much more than we ever could.  

The problem may simply be with our very limited perspective.  

Perhaps we’ve been praying for someone else to be saved. And yet, it seems like they are still so far from God. We must remember we can’t see all the ways God is working in their life. Or the fact that they still have free will. And can refuse Him if they choose to.  

Luckily, God is loving, understanding, and gracious.  

He promises to help us with all of our struggles and doubts. And He reminds us that all we need is a mustard-sized seed of faith.  

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” 

-Mark 9:24 NIV

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.’” 

-Luke 17:5-6 NIV
A sunset over the mountains by a lake. And the words, "God is sovereign everything. And He knows what He's doing."

6) It’s not God’s will.

Sometimes our prayers go unanswered because it’s not God’s will.  

Paul was a strong believer. He was an apostle who did many great things for the Kingdom of God. And yet, after praying to God three times and pleading with God to take a painful thorn away . . . God refused.  

But even though it was God’s will that Paul’s thorn remained in place . . . He reminded Paul that His grace was sufficient. He promised to be with Paul. To be the strength he needed to live with it. (Philippians 4:13)

And to use it for good. (Romans 8:28) 

While it isn’t fun to hear that God’s will is for us to suffer, we must remember . . . God is sovereign over everything. And He knows what He’s doing. 

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 

-2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV
A woman's praying hands laying on top of her Bible. And the words, "God does answer our prayers. Just not always in the way we expect Him to."

7) We expect God to answer our prayers a certain way.

Every good parent knows they cannot and should not answer every request their child makes.  

Unanswered prayers are often simply us not understanding the way God is responding to our prayers.  

Because we have a very limited perspective of our lives.  

Joni Eareckson Tada prayed that God would use her for His Kingdom. And then she was involved in a diving accident that paralyzed her.  

God didn’t cause the accident. But He did use it. To draw her close to Him. And to use her in incredible ways to encourage others and draw many hearts to Him.  

Sometimes it just seems like God isn’t answering our prayers because we have preconceived ideas about HOW God should answer.  

We think we know what His answer is going to look like. So, when we don’t see what we want to see we think He’s not answering.  

But His answer may not look the way we think it should.  

So, if we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers, we may need to ask Him to open our hearts and minds to what His answer really is.  

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” 

-Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV
A woman praying in the shadows. And the words, "7 Reasons Why Our Prayers Are Not Answered and What to Do About It."
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What to Do About Unanswered Prayer

When our hearts are broken and we don’t understand why our prayers are not answered the way we thought God would, we can choose to trust that: 

  • God loves us. (1 John 4:9)  
  • He is always with us. (Deut. 31:8)  
  • And He has good plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

God hears every one of our prayers. But He also knows what’s best for us.  

So, if He doesn’t seem to be answering, or isn’t answering our prayers the way we want Him to . . . we can choose to trust that He is working ALL things out for our good! (Romans 8:28) 

Even unanswered prayers.  

If this encouraged you then please share it so it can bless others, too! 

You won’t want to miss out on these either! 

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