Why Are There Unanswered Prayers?


The Question

Why do some prayers go unanswered?


The Quick Answer

I have found 19 different reasons for unanswered prayer, but the main reason for unanswered prayers is (1) something is amiss in our prayer,  or (2) something is amiss in our life.


The Bible Answer

Psalms 66:18 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:"

Isaiah 59:1-2 "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."


Other Inspired Answers

"If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the penitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance." {SC 95.3}

"We must have a deep, earnest sense of our needs. We must feel our weakness and our dependence upon God, and come to Him with contrition of soul and brokenness of heart. Our petitions must be offered in perfect submission; every desire must be brought into harmony with the will of God, and His will must be done in us. We must not pray in a doubting, half-hearted manner, but with full assurance of faith. When we come to Him in this manner, Jesus will listen to our prayers, and will answer them; but if we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cherish any darling sin, we may be assured that no blessing will be given in response to our prayers." {BEcho September 24, 1894, par. 3}

"Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. The eye of faith will discern God very near, and the suppliant may obtain precious evidence of the divine love and care for him. But why is it that so many prayers are never answered? Says David: “I cried unto Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” By another prophet the Lord gives us the promise: “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” Again, he speaks of some who “have not cried unto Me with their heart.” Such petitions are prayers of form, lip service only, which the Lord does not accept." {4T 533.3}


Nineteen Reasons For Unanswered Prayers

1. We don’t ask. (Matt. 7:7,8)

2. We haven't asked in faith. (Mark 11:24)

3. We are not looking for God’s answer. (Acts 12:13-15)

4. We are not asking in Jesus' name. (John 14:13,14; 16:23,24)

5. We haven’t fully surrendered our lives to God. (Mal. 1:14; Rev. 3:20)

6. We are asking for things outside of His will. (1 John 5:14,15)

7. God is waiting for us to accept a greater answer. (1 Sam. 1:9-12)

8. His answer is being delivered in a “rough packing case.” (Gen. 45:3-8; Daniel 3:13-15)

9. We are disobeying God. (1 John 3:22; Ex. 20:8-11; Mal. 3:7-10; Mal. 2:14,15)

10. We must FULLY obey before the answer comes. (1 Kings 18:44; 2 Kings 5:14)

11. We limit God by our half-hearted obedience. (2 Kings 13:18,19)

12. We limit God by our half-hearted prayers. (Dan. 9:3; Matt. 17:21)

13. We are cherishing something that is outside of God’s will. (Isa. 59:1,2)

14. We are forgetting to first “go, then come” so far as forgiveness goes. (Matt. 5:23,24)

15. We are lagging behind God’s directing of our lives. (Luke 9:23; Ps. 119:105)

16. We are seeking a supernatural remedy when a natural remedy—granted a remedy requiring dying to self—is available. (2 Kings 20:7)

17. He is unable to answer at this time (Daniel 10:12-14)

18. It is better that things stay the same (2 Cor. 12:7)

19. The “Prayer Warriors” you are praying with are not in relationship with God and therefore not obtaining answers to prayer. (Mark 9:18)


What Is God's Desire Relative To Prayer?

He wants to answer our prayers and has given many promises in that regard!

Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

John 14:13-14 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

James 5:14-15 "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

Matthew 18:19 "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

Ephesians 3:20 "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"


How Can We Get Our Prayers Answered

1. Look for a promise that you can claim for your situation. (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Cor. 1:20)

2. Find another person, or group of people, that can pray with you locally. (Matt. 18:20)

3. Prayerfully go through the list of hindering factors and ask God to show you if any are present. 

4. Prayerfully make an inventory of your life to see if anything needs changing. (2 Chron. 7:14)

5. Prayerfully make any adjustments needed as soon as possible—immediately is best! (Matt. 4:22) 

6. Thank Him for answering regardless of circumstances. (Daniel 6:10) 

7. Keep praying until He answers. (Dan. 10:2,3; Col. 1:9)

8. Live out your prayer. (2 Sam. 12:13)


A Biographical Note On Overcoming Unanswered Prayer

There was a time when I was obtaining few answers to prayer. Like many people I thought this was the norm. I was dutifully praying each day, but not with much expectation. In the early 1990s I went through a difficult personal time in my life when I needed God's guidance and silence was no longer acceptable. As a result of my great need I began studying the subject of prayer like never before. I read the Bible. I read books on the subject. I began implementing what I was learning. Praise God I began obtaining answers. Not only did I begin obtaining answers, but I began receiving amazing answers, sometimes on a daily basis. As a result I began sharing what I was experiencing and what I had learned. Soon God led me into a prayer ministry locally, regionally, then eventually globally. Prayer really works!!!!!—Dan



Prayer is one of the wonderful gifts that God has granted His children. Prayer brings amazing blessings that would not come if we did not pray. Begin praying. Expect Answers. Where answers are not coming, check to see why? Modify. Make things right if necessary. Wait. God will bless!!!