The Problem of Unanswered Prayer


prayerOBJECTION: If the Christian God exists, why doesn’t he consistently answer the prayers of his followers? The prayers of devout, deserving Christians go unanswered every day, and these unanswered prayers are evidence that the Christian God simply does not exist.

The Answer Lies in Our Perception of God’s Goals
It’s true that many prayers seem to go unanswered, but this perception is simply based on the fact that the only answer to prayer that most of us would find acceptable is “yes”. The truth is that all prayers offered to God are answered; some with “yes”, some with “no” and some with “not yet”. To understand why a particular prayer may fall into one of these three categories, it may be helpful to begin by looking at prayers that God always answers in the affirmative. Followers of Jesus recognize that God always says “yes” to our requests for wisdom, forgiveness, or salvation (we see this in James 1:5, 1 John 1:9, and Romans 10:13). Why would this be so? Well, have you noticed that these kinds of requests are more interested in character and eternity than they are in comfort and mortality? This is the key to understanding why God answers prayer the way He does. God responds to those prayers that help us to understand His priorities; prayers that result in our character development, our appreciation of God’s power and our recognition of the eternal nature of our lives.

Now, some prayers do seem to be answered in the negative, but these prayers fall into one of two categories. There are clearly some prayers that are denied by God because they violate God’s nature as the perfect source of truth and righteousness. I’ve arrested many guilty murderers who have prayed that the jury would find them innocent at trial (or that the prosecutor would come to an untimely death), but we can be sure that God will always answer “no” to prayers that would require Him to violate his nature. But what about the righteous prayers that God also seems to answer in the negative?


The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

The Poached Egg

Recommended Resources: The Prayer of Jesus: Secrets of Real Intimacy with God | Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?