It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room – unanswered prayer. Few things in life are more demoralizing than dealing with unanswered prayer. Most of us have figured out that inappropriate prayers don’t get answered the way we hope. For example, to pray that your neighbor gets hit by a truck because of an argument you had with him last week is always inappropriate. It is inappropriate to pray to win the lottery because our trust is in God and not on random numbers.

Sometimes our prayers don’t get answered because of the timing. God needs us to wait and think through what is best for us and not just jump into things. Girls will pray whether or not they should marry a certain fellow, but God might be saying through His silence wait and watch. Time will determine the character of the young man or God may have plans for your life that has nothing to do with marrying at this point in life.

We need to pray, “God what is your will for me that I may obey and follow you.”  But, for most of us, at least for me, I pray God this is what I want and please make it happen because I am sure I know best.” The next thing we do is blame God because He should answer every request, when and how we want it answered.

So, maybe if we are honest, at least some of our prayers go unanswered because of our attitudes towards prayer. I know this is a topic no one wants to talk about, but it is something we all need to talk about because it is key to our relationship with God.

Let’s begin with the most common stumbling block on our part in regards to answered prayer and it is the fact we don’t pray. We all talk a good prayer but how many of us get down on our knees and pour our souls out to God trusting completely in His grace and mercy to handle whatever it is we are praying for. How many times has someone asked you to pray for something and you have said, “Sure, I will add that to my prayer list,” or “I’ll pray about that today,” then we promptly forget about the request?

If we want answered prayers then we need to be prayer warriors, but not just casual participants in prayer. I was watching a Youtube video about the pastor of the largest church in the world. He said, “I’m an old man now so I can’t pray for my city like I use to. And my knees are giving out so I can’t spend more than three hours a day praying.” I almost feel out of my chair when I heard that. Three hours a day. Do yourself a favor and add up how much time you spend a week praying for your children, wife, husband, mother, father, loved ones and the lost. I will guarantee many of us will be hard pressed to find three hours for the week!

And we wonder why the husband, or son, or daughter hasn’t come to Christ. It could be because we have not spent the time on our knees crying out to God the pain of our heart about the lost condition of that family member. Claim God’s promises for your family and don’t let go until God has spoken to your heart and the heart of your loved one.

We’ve come to the part of the blog that I am very uncomfortable with because what I am going to say can be misconstrued very easily. Prayer sometimes isn’t answered because of our un-confessed sins. Isaiah 59:2 reads, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Micah reveals what God expects of us, “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

I am not insinuating any form of legalism here. I am not saying God only answers prayer when you have performed well or obeyed totally everything there is to obey in the Bible. What I am saying is that when we come to pray we should come with an open heart and trusting in the mercy and grace that God has provided for us through His Son. It is difficult to have a sincere prayer life for others when we harbor anger and hatred towards people.

James 1:5-8 “If any of you is lacking wisdom ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (New Revised Standard Version)

Do you doubt God when you pray? When God answers do you think this can’t be happening? I’m good at asking but not so good at asking in faith.

I doubt a lot and yet expect God to answer in spite of my lack of faith in God’s ability to do the impossible. God is all powerful, all knowing, totally able and fully committed to help me in the times of storm, but I doubt His sincerity, His promises, His grace and ultimately His love for me through my lack of faith. I long for greater strength to believe and trust in God when it comes to prayer.

The simplicity of the secret of prayer is that the more we believe that God is able, the more He demonstrates His ability to us. When we believe in regards to our children we must believe God will save them. We have to take our eye off the problem and put our trust in God. As long as we are looking at the problem the less time we have for seeking God’s guidance and solutions to the problems. When we look at someone we are praying for we might see a hard heart and indifference towards the gospel and become discouraged, but when we center upon Christ we are presented with solutions and hope.

We matter to God and our happiness and joy is important to Him. He longs to pour His blessings out upon us, but we must seek them. “I’ll throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10.

My mother knelt every morning and every evening praying for her family to become Christians. She never gave up or blamed God for our slow acceptance of grace. She just kept on praying and believing. I believe my mom’s prayers were answered because she believed God would be gracious to her and her heart was right with God. She wanted nothing for herself, but eternal life for her family. If my mother was alive today I could say with a joyous heart, “thanks mom for never giving up and thanks God for hearing and answering the prayers of an honest hearted women.”

Please don’t let anything stand in the way of your prayer life being everything it can be. Trust God and put everything into His capable hands. He loves you and that is enough.

* Please remember to pray for the persecuted Christians in so many of the countries of this world. God does answer the prayers for these people and they really need to know that they are not forgotten. Some of their stories can be found at  http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/