How Not to Get Your Prayers Answered

by Joanna Pierce on June 14, 2018

There’s a right and a wrong way to pray. Some people may feel they understand Jesus’ admonition and instruction to pray, but have missed out on other critical truths and teachings throughout the Bible. If we don’t want an answer to our prayers, this study tells us what we shouldn’t do!

Forget to Pray

Scripture tells us we don’t have anything because we haven’t asked (James 4:2). If we’re sulking around, upset with God that He hasn’t provided, we are the ones at fault for neglecting our prayer life. If we ask, seek, and knock, He will answer us (Matthew 7:7–8).

Ask for Things to Fulfill Fleshly Lusts

James warns the church not to ask amiss for things we would consume in our lust (James 4:3). People who ask amiss are praying with the wrong aims and intentions to receive success in their own endeavors; they don’t wish to glorify God. God will deny us our prayers when we ask for the things of this world. If it’s not God’s will for us to partake, He will give us a heart to be content without it

Tell God How Godly We Are

Jesus taught a parable about how both a Pharisee and tax collector approached the Lord in prayer. The Pharisee thought himself righteous and better than the tax collector, but the tax collector humbled himself before God (Luke 18:9–14). No matter what, our best is as a filthy rag compared to God’s righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). Even if we do what we’ve been called to do, which is our minimal service, we’re still an unprofitable servant (Luke 17:10). We must come before God in a humble spirit before we begin to pray.

Don’t Offer Thanksgiving and Praise

Scripture tells us to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalms 100:4). We are never to approach God without praising and thanking Him (Psalms 95:2)! When Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days, it wasn’t until he brought forth the sacrifice of thanksgiving did God release him from his prison (Jonah 2:7–9). In the Old Testament, when the trumpeters and singers went before the Lord, their praise was so great, a glory cloud of God’s presence filled the temple (II Chronicles 5:13). We must approach God with praise. Praise and thanksgiving are primary; our requests are secondary.

Don’t Humble Yourself and Repent

It’s only after we humble ourselves, repent, and pray will God respond (II Chronicles 7:14). If we have sin in our life, we’ll be separated from God and He’ll choose not to hear our prayers (Isaiah 55:1). Additionally, if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us and hear us when we pray (Matthew 6:15).

Ask Only Once

A common misconception in prayer is to come before the Lord only one time with a particular request. Scripture teaches us that we need to have persistence with God when we pray (Luke 11:8). Scripture commands us to pray and not to faint, or give up (Luke 18:1). We can see evidence in Scripture where people who continually ask will receive (Luke 18:5–8).

Ensure There’s Division in Your Family

Husbands and wives are called to dwell together according to knowledge. At no time should there be unresolved strife in the family when approaching God’s throne room (I Peter 3:7). We must first be reconciled before we offer even praise to God (Matthew 5:24). A house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25).

Ask for Things that Don’t Agree with God’s Will

If we ask God for anything that’s in alignment with His will, He will hear us. But, if we ask according to lust or in opposition to the Word, we won’t receive anything from God (I John 5:14). It’s God’s will for us to obey Him so He can bless us (Deuteronomy 28:1–14).

Don’t Pray in the Holy Ghost

It’s necessary to pray in the Holy Ghost because it will make intercession for us in groanings we can’t understand, but communicates to God what we need in accordance with His will (Romans 8:26). Paul even reminds the church the necessity and benefits of praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18)—this helps us put on the armor God’s given us to withstand our enemy and survive this weary world.

Stay in Charge

We want to be in control of our life and neglect to ask God to lead us. He’s promised not to lead us into temptation (Luke 11:4) and to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5). We cannot be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7), but be led of the Spirit (Romans 8:14). If we allow God to lead and guide us, we’ll truly be called His.

Try to Impress People

God doesn’t want us to pray to be seen and admired by men. We’re told to go into our prayer closet and pray to God secretly. It’s when we do this God will honor our prayers and reward us openly (Matthew 6:5–6). Praying is not about putting on a show for others, but getting to a place of intimacy with God.

Use Repetition

Repetitious praying is not the same as asking God for the same thing when praying. This is saying the same thing over and over again. Scripture tells us not to use vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7–8). God doesn’t answer prayers based on the number of words we use. We need to be specific in our prayers!

Be Double-Minded

We can be faithful to prayer, but lacking faith in what we pray. Scripture tells us we should ask with unwavering faith (James 1:5–6). If we can’t make up our mind about what we’re praying for, or have faith God will meet our need, we’ll be unstable in all our ways (James 1:7–8).

Wait Until it’s Too Late

Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus (Luke 16:22–25). The rich man waited to long to live a righteous and good life, and wanted to drink from the well of everlasting life when it was too late. We must go to God first in prayer before we do anything else.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on June 14, 2018 with Pastor Melder