Unanswered Prayer? Doubt or Faith.

Why are some prayers answered, but some are not? The Bible promises in Matthew 21:22, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” James 1:6-8 states, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7) For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord 8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

  • Do you doubt God answers prayer?  If yes, then ask God to show you the painful memory of disappointment that is causing you to doubt.  Read chapter five of my book called, 5–Finding Painful Memories and Healing Issues.
  • Are you disappointed because of unanswered prayers? If yes, then ask God to show you what His best is for you and accept His sovereign will for you. Next, mentally submit your plans and requests to God and trust He has a good purpose for your life in His timing. Many of King David’s Psalms reveal his disappointment and submission to God’s sovereignty in his life.  See my post called Know Your Purpose? .
  • Do you feel you are not worthy, and that God does not love you?  This unhealthy belief is from a painful memory, so let God reveal it and heal it. To understand how this works, read my book on my website.
    • Even if you don’t feel God cares, the truth is, He does. 1Peter 5:7 says, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” And when you commit your problems to God in faith, you will have peace. Believe that “He causes all things to work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Do you believe?

Reason Five: Do you doubt God in any way?

First, what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And Romans 8:24 tells us that “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” Faith believes God will do what He has promised, so I pray the promises of God over situations in my life.

Matthew 9:29Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith, be it done to you.’” This verse is most concerning because what we receive will be according to our faith. So, if we have a little faith then we will get a little.  This reminds me of the story in 2Kings 4 of the widow who met Elisha and asked him how she can pay her debt. When he asked her what she had, she said she only had a jar of oil.  He told her to gather as many empty vessels from her neighbor as she could. Then pour the oil she had into those empty vessels. She could have doubted that such a thing can be done, but according to her faith she gathered all the empty vessels she could find. Then she filled every vessel from that one jar of oil. The oil stopped when all the vessels were filled. Now, if she only got a few jars, then that was all the oil she would get. It is the same with our faith. The moral of the story is that faith requires absolute obedience to experience answers to prayer.

Matthew 14:31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Jesus said this to Peter when he obeyed Jesus and got out of the boat amid the storm and walked on the water.  He was doing great until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves.  When he realized what he was doing, he doubted and began to sink.  The moral of the story, keep your eyes on Jesus, not your circumstances.

Matthew 16:8But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?’” The disciples witnessed Jesus taking five loves of bread and two fish to feed 5000 people, then seven loaves to feed 4000 people. In this verse, the disciples were concerned about not bringing food with them for the journey. Did they forget how Jesus multiplied the food he had to feed thousands of people? The moral of the story; Jesus will do miracles to provide what you need according to your faith.

Matthew 17:20He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.’” In this story, the disciples could not cast out a demon from a young boy.  When Jesus cast the demon out, the disciples asked Him why they could not.  Now, Jesus does not mean to move a literal mountain, otherwise there would be no mountains.  The mountains represent the impossible things in our lives. 

For example, I needed a place to live after my first-husband was throwing me and the children out of our home.  I prayed for weeks for God to show me where to go.  But I did not have a job and could not afford to rent, though I began an alterations business to at least put food on the table for me and my children.  I went to a banker in my church and he said I could not get a mortgage because my income was so low and I did not have a steady income.  I continued to pray, and then God, yes, God did a miracle. The banker from my church called me and said he found a small bank in another county who will give me a small mortgage.  WOW!!! I could buy a fixer-upper house and God increased my business so I could pay the mortgage and all my other expenses, plus fix the house up.  The moral of the story; God still does miracles to meet our needs.

Mark 5:34And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.’” The story behind this verse is of a woman who went to every physician and they could not help her.  Her only hope was for Jesus to heal her, so by faith, she approached Jesus through the crowd that was around Him so she could touch His garment. Jesus felt power leave Him, so He turned to see who had touched Him, she confessed that she touched Him. Her faith brought the healing she hoped for. The moral of the story; faith connects to the power of God. Why are many not healed when they pray by faith and believe God will heal them? Read, How the Devil Causes Trouble and my other posts on why prayers are not answered.

When you doubt, you are not trusting God.

Are you consumed by worry or anger? When we worry and are angry, we doubt God can help us. Our emotions become like the waves of the sea described in James 1:6 because our negative thoughts act as the wind to whip-up our emotions. When we worry, we are fearing the worst will happen and we are not trusting in God.  Don’t expect He will help you if you are not asking and trusting Him.  Philippians 4:6-7 states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Anger demands justice and retribution for an unfair wrong done against you.  God will patiently wait for you to turn the issue to Him before He acts on your behalf.

Proverbs 3:5-10 explains how to trust God.

5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding

            Does your heart reflect trust?

6) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths

            Do you acknowledge Him in all your plans?

7) Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8) It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones

            Are you humble? Do you fear God and repent when you sin and do evil?

9) Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; 10) then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine

            Do you tithe?

Conclusion

The greater your faith, the greater the miracles.  The greater the doubt, the more you worry and become angry. Faith looks to God in hope and expects Him to provide excellent things.  Doubt looks to the distressing circumstances and sees no hope that things can be better.  God is waiting for us to come to Him in faith and receive the good things He has for us.

RELATED POSTS:

15 Promises We Can Trust God to Keep

Pt. 2: Why You Can and Cannot Trust God? 

Unanswered Prayer? Why?

Unanswered Prayer—Are You Connected?

Unanswered Prayer—Are You Presentable?

Unanswered Prayer? Are You Presentable?

If you were to appear before a King or Ruler of a Nation and was given the chance to ask him or her to do something, how would you dress and act? Take a moment and visualize it. Would you be humbled, cleaned up, neat, polite, be conscious of customs as to not offend, etc.? Now, how is that different than coming before the King of the Universe in prayer? Do you think you can come before Him in pride and with an unrepentant, filthy heart and demand Him to give you what you want?

To continue the simple illustration of electricity. If prayer is the power cord and faith is the action of plugging into the power source, then hope is the expectation the power source will deliver results. So, if a lamp is plugged in but does not turn on, then you need to look for the reason. We know we are plugged into God through the Holy Spirit that dwells in us when we believe in Jesus Christ and received forgiveness of our sins.  One way our prayers are short-circuited is from unrepentant sin.

Reason Four: Unrepentant Sin short-circuits our prayers.

We cannot approach a Holy God in prayer if we are not presentable by having unrepented sin in our lives. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to the commands of God to love Him by keeping His commands and to love one another. Sin is knowing the right thing to do and not doing it (James 4:17). The following verses explain why prayers are not answered because of unrepentant sin.

Psalms 66:18 states, “If I regard wickedness (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear;”

Isaiah 59:1,2 states, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  2) But your iniquities (sin) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear.

1Peter 3:12 also says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Psalms 34:14-18 explains, “Turn away from evil (to harm) and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15) The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16) The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17) When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18) The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Unrepentant sin includes not forgiving those who sinned against you because God instructs us to forgive. Matthew 5:23, 24, states, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” If you struggle forgiving those who did evil against you, please read my post on why we should forgive.

Wayne Jackson writes in “6 Reasons Why Some Prayers Are Never Answered” on ChristianCourier.com. “If you know that someone has a legitimate grievance against you, how can you sincerely approach God in prayer? Uncorrected problems with brethren are extremely detrimental. Peter certainly stressed that discordant home relationships could hinder prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Where domestic wrangling and bitterness prevail, prayer can never be effective.” What do you think? Would you agree?

Solve the problem of sin through repentance and the work of Christ on the cross.

1John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Pastor Darryl Baker writes in “Abiding in the Word” blog, “Because of what Christ did in bearing our sin and the punishment of our sin, we no longer need to live fearful of approaching our heavenly Father. The sin that separated us is gone and we can now approach God with complete confidence. So as a believer we should daily draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. Don’t ever run from God, run to Him. If you have sinned repent, and run back to the Father for He awaits with arms open wide to help you get back on your feet again.” And he writes, “It is the devil who tries to keep us from approaching God by making us afraid to do so through wrong thoughts. Scripture teaches us to come boldly to the throne of grace, to find grace and help in our time of need. God is waiting to help us overcome whatever we may be dealing with in life, but we must draw near to Him to get that help. The door is open so don’t ever run from Him. He is your answer, He is your deliverer, He wants to help you; and most importantly He wants you to know Him.”  I agree, but we need to come before Him with a repentant and humble spirit.

Hebrews 4:14-16 states, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 

16) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 4:6-8 says, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.‘ 7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8) Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

These verses are the theme verses for my county jail Bible study. I have the women memorize them. One inmate return because her roommate had alcohol in the apartment which meant she broke her probation. When she came to the Bible Study, she was excited to still be able to quote the verses above from memory. I encourage you to memorize Hebrews 4:14-16 and James 4:6-8.

Conclusion:

God is loving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. Psalm 103:8 states, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” He is also Holy and Just, Isaiah 5:16 states, “But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows Himself holy in righteousness.” So, we need to approach Him with humility and with repentance if we want him to hear our petitions.

RELATED POSTS

HOW TO PRAY USING THE LORD’S PRAYER AS A MODEL

Reasons One and Two Why Prayer Is Not Answered

Unanswered Prayer—Reason Three

How to Recognize and Eliminate Emotional Cancer


All verses are from the English Standard Bible.  If you find my posts and website helpful, then please share the links with your friends and family, hopeforcompletehealing.com. The information is copyright protected and no part of the posts or my book may be reproduced without proper citation to Joyce Hanscom.

Contact me at hopeforcompletehealing@gmail.com, and ask for a PDF of Eight Prayers from the Bible. The prayers are for the Spirit of wisdom, renewal, spiritual strength, knowledge of His will, virtues of God, non-believers, 23rd Psalm, and victory. Please leave your name so I know you are a real person making the request.

P.S., experiencing a lasting change in your life depends on having a right relationship with God the Father through believing in His Son Jesus Christ and obeying His command to love (1 John 3).