Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Is He even real or listening?
Growing up, my parents always taught me the importance of learning what it means to depend on God. It was a struggle for me then and even now to completely understand what “depending on God” would look like. I knew that one of the many facets of “depending on God” was prayer. But why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
As someone who grew up in a Christian household, praying was part of a family tradition, and up till this day, it is something that my family holds onto as an important practice we keep. During a big event that we knew we couldn’t control as individuals (for example, I remember praying for safe travels with my family before every plane ride we took to visit our relatives overseas), that’s when we start to pray or as it is defined “earnestly beg” to God to help us.
While there are many things in life that are within our own control, there are also many things that we cannot control. Prayer is thus something that many people, religious or not, utilize to help reassure themselves that while things aren’t fully within their control, the hope is that some force, or higher being out there would be watching over and guiding us through the invisible forces that shape our path in life.
How to Pray Effectively
In the Bible, there are many instances where we see prayers being lifted up to God, no matter whether rich or poor, strong or weak. Even Jesus Christ himself, prayed. He himself knew that by his own strength, he could not achieve much. From the moment his public life of faith started to the cross he had to bear, Jesus drew strength from God through prayer (Heb 5:7).
Not only did he pray for the sake of the work he had to do, but he prayed also for the work that the disciples and the believers that are to come after were to carry out and that they be protected from the evil one (Jn 17:6-26). Surely enough, it resulted as such as we trace the story of the gospels being spread in the rest of the New Testament.
Prayers in the Bible
Despite the many ‘successful’ requests that we see characters in the Bible have with their prayers, sometimes, the success rates aren’t necessarily equivalent to our experiences today. Due to such, many people come to a conclusion that this higher being that one prays to either don’t exist or don’t care about our livelihoods or requests we have. But to challenge such way of thought, have we ever wondered if the problem is not God himself, but perhaps the person sending the request?
This is something worth thinking about because in the Bible, the problem and the reason for religion’s existence did not stem from the problem being God himself, but it exists due to people and their response to certain situations. While it may be easier to point the finger at others, or in this case, God, have we self-examined ourselves to check where we stand? Have we ever stop to think that maybe perhaps we are the problem and not God? Do we have our own standard of what prayers should look like and accomplish rather than verifying it against God who fulfills those requests?
Fact or Fiction: Ask and it will be Given?
It’s like this — a child asks for a brand new expensive PlayStation 4 from his parents. Would all parents just easily give such an expensive game console to the kid? Not necessarily. Often times, in the world, to gain something, there are often terms and guidelines that one has to keep before something is given or rewarded to the individual. Likewise, have we consider that perhaps the way of thinking applies to our prayers that we life up to God?
While many may claim that one can simply “ask and it will be given”, if one examines scriptures more in depth, the scriptures actually says otherwise. In the Bible, to lift up a prayer in which God can acknowledge would require more than just “asking.” In the case of the example of the child who wants a brand new PlayStation 4 from his parents, under what terms and conditions would a parent probably reward the child by fulfilling his request?
My Parents’ Point of View
From my parents’ point of view it might be some sort of academic achievement, or maybe not. Regardless, what I do know know and understand is that a child’s heart must align with her parents. If it was the parents’ heart, that PlayStation 4 would be within the child’s reach. In the same way, what is essential is having the word of God, having God’s heart within oneself. Then you’ll be able to lift up a prayer that God can acknowledge (Prv 28:9, Jn 15:7, 1 Jn 5:14).
While it may be difficult to grasp that there is a condition attached to praying in a way one can be acknowledged by God, it shouldn’t be too great of a surprise to us. In fact, Jesus, the one whom had his prayers acknowledged by the Father, had the word in him (Jn 17:7-8) and hence, was able to depend on God and receive God’s protection as he requested.
Addressing “Why Doesn’t God Answer my Prayers?”
Before I asked “why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” But now, the question we need to ask ourselves should be “do I have the word within me?” The term “having the word in me” probably does not only mean just knowing a verse or two, because if that was the case we would have easily checked it off and our prayers would have been foolproof. Then what does it entail to “have the word within” oneself?
Throughout the Bible, God stresses the value and importance of the word in has for His people. God speaks of the importance of the word being impressed upon the people’s hearts and minds (Deut 6:6-9, Heb 8:10-12). As God’s people today, the believers, are we able to uphold ourselves to that standard placed in God’s word? Uphold ourselves to uplift a prayer that God can actually acknowledge and answer? Or are we expecting things to fulfill according to our own standards? Something to think about. But more importantly, how do I know if the word that is within me is sufficient to uplift a prayer God can acknowledge?