When Prayers Seem To Fail
By Warren Mueller –
Have you ever felt like you are talking to yourself when you pray or that your prayers don’t seem to go any further than your ceiling? What causes this? There are several reasons. First is the belief that the quality of our prayers depend on how we feel about them. When we are hopeful and optimistic, we tend to think better of ourselves and that God is listening. When we are depressed or worried, we are more likely to become frustrated, give up or wonder where God is. However, the Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing which means that God expects us to pray whether we feel like it or not (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God is ever present and unchanging so he is not influenced by how we feel.
God may not answer our prayers because they are not in accord with his will and plans. Isaiah 55:8-9 says that God’s thoughts are not like those of mankind nor are his ways like those of man, but rather just as the heavens are higher than the earth so are God’s thoughts, view and ways beyond ours. Therefore, God may choose not to answer our prayers or he may answer them in ways that are different than what we prayed.
God may not answer our prayers because we are holding onto sinful ways. Psalm 66:18-19 says that when we cherish or hold onto sin God will not listen to our prayers. When we choose to hold onto sin, we rebel against God and evil rules in this part of our lives. Therefore, we must confess our sins and forsake them if we expect God to listen to our prayers (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9).
Sometimes God says yes, but the answer is delayed or slow in coming. One possible reason for this is that God wants to teach us to trust in him and learn dependence upon him so he can direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). Finally, we need to remember that spiritual warfare is raging throughout this world. Satan and his demons are inciting rebellion and exerting their will. They do this through evil temptations of this world such as the pride of life which is excessive focus on getting more and better things or money. Also, evil can ensnare us through the pursuit of power and influence at the expense of relationships as well as through the weaknesses of our human nature such as selfishness, lust, greed and envy.
Daniel fasted and prayed for twenty-four days before he received an answer to his prayers (Daniel 10: 2-6). An angel appeared to him on the twenty-fourth day and told Daniel that, from the first day that he prayed, the angel was sent from God with the answers. However, the angel was held up by a demon called the prince of the Persian kingdom. This angel could not get through until help arrived in the form of the angel Michael, presumably because Daniel continued to persist in prayer (Daniel 10:12-14). This is challenging and encouraging because it shows the importance of persisting in prayer until answers are realized. How many times have we stopped praying because we have not seen any results? I wonder how many angels are stuck battling opposing demons because we do not persist in prayer.
Lord Jesus forgive us when we give up praying because it seems like you are not listening or answering. Help us to trust that you have heard our prayers and do respond to them. Help us to persist with humble dependence and hope in our prayers until your angels deliver your answers.