18 Reasons For Unanswered Prayer

by John Edmiston

(James 1:5-8 NKJV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. {6} But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. {7} For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; {8} he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

There are four basic categories of reasons why your prayers are not answered other than "the sovereignty of God". These are :

  • Spiritual sins - doubt, hypocrisy, pride, flippancy etc
  • Poor relationships - rudeness, unforgiveness, malice, anger, wrath, divisiveness.
  • Major sin - things categorised as "doing evil" (1 Cor 6:9,10)
  • Praying amiss - lack of persistence, not fasting, not using Jesus' name etc.
  • These form the basis for the following 18 reasons.

    James 1:5-8 Doubting God Deciding to believe what God says and acting on it.
    James 4:2 Not asking God in the first place but trying to obtain it by quarreling. Ask God in prayer for your needs.
    James 4:3 Asking wrongly e.g for worldly pleasures. A distinct separation from the world/not loving it.
    1 Peter 3:7 Treating your wife in an inconsiderate manner. Living with her in an understanding way.
    1 Peter 3:12 Doing evil Be righteous.
    1 Peter 4:7 A flippant attitude to holy things. Being serious and watchful.
    Matthew 6:5,6 Hypocritical attention-seeking. Pray in private to God not publicly for show.
    Matthew 6:5 Using vain repetition (e.g. like Buddhist prayer wheels etc). Pray concisely knowing that God is hearing and knows your needs.
    Matthew 18:19 Lack of unity especially among Christian leaders. Agreement & fellowship.
    Mark 9:29 Some situations need fasting as well. Spiritual discernment and a disciplined life.
    Mark 11:25,26 Unforgiveness Forgive whoever has offended you from the heart.
    Luke 18:1ff Lack of persistence Do not lose heart or give up.
    Luke 18:10 ff Spiritual pride Humble yourself before God.
    1 Timothy 2:8 Wrath/anger Live peaceably in prayer.
    1 John 5:14 Not according to God's will (God's broad moral will is meant here) Ask within the bounds of Scripture.
    John 15:7 An erratic life that seldom "abides" in God. Abide in Jesus words and let them abide in you.
    John 14:13,14 Not asking "in Jesus name" i.e asking in the will and clear purposes of Jesus and with His designated authority. Ask in Jesus's will for God's purposes with a sense that the authority comes from God not you.
    John 16:26,27 Not believing in Jesus. The Father loves those who believe in his Son and will answer their prayers as a result.

    You will probably find two or three of the above in your own life. Write them down and write down a plan for doing something about them. Start with asking God for forgiveness for those things and appeal to Him to hear and answer your prayers.


    Lord we are so weak in many ways. Forgive us our sins and clear us of guilt in our praying. If it was not for Jesus we would not be heard at all. Teach us to pray in ways that are good and acceptable so that we may be heard before Your throne and be answered swiftly. Amen.

    John Edmiston

    © Copyright Asian Internet Bible Institute 1997 http://www.eternity-magazine.org

    This article may be freely reproduced by e-mail or photocopying for non-profit ministry purposes. Just e-mail us at johned@aibi.ph



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