When God Does Not Answer Prayers, Try These Three Helpful Principles
Editor’s Note: In 2020, larger and larger disasters have been occurring all over the world. During this difficult time, what we should be doing as Christians is praying, repenting, and asking God to give us faith and for Him to guide us through these difficulties. But if we find that God isn’t responding to our prayers, how can we pray effectively to God so that He will listen? Keep reading to find out.
Actually, there are a few reasons why God may not listen to our prayers. I will share my personal understanding of this with everybody.
- First, do we pray to God with a sincere heart?
- Second, do we pray to God with rationality?
- Third, does our church have the Holy Spirit’s work?
First, do we pray to God with a sincere heart?
The Lord Jesus said: “When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:23). God’s words have shown us how we should pray to worship God in accordance with His intentions. What God focuses on the most is whether we have a sincere heart when we are before Him and whether we speak sincere and true words to Him. As long as we have a reverent heart toward God and have a sincere heart when we pray to God, God would find our prayers acceptable. However, when we pray to God, we often are unable to quiet ourselves before God and use a true heart to pray to God. Our lips move but our heart is thinking about family or work and filled with anxious thoughts. Sometimes, our lips move but our hearts do not move. We do not have an honest attitude, and we are simply going through the motions and going over old ground, doing it perfunctorily. We even frequently say some dignified, pompous and empty words, words that merely sound good or some diluted words to deceive God. For example, we love our parents more than we love the Lord or we love our career more than we love the Lord, yet when we pray, we say, “O Lord, I love You! I am willing to relinquish everything and expend for You with all my heart!” When our families encounter some unhappy incidents, our hearts become negative and we complain to the Lord. Yet, when we pray, we give thanks to the Lord and say words of praise to the Lord…. Basically, in prayers, if one is not sincere and only goes through the motions, using some big and empty words, false words or if one disguises oneself before God and only says some pleasant-sounding words, he is deceiving God. God will not listen to prayers that are not sincere.
Second, do we pray to God with rationality?
Much of the time, when we pray to God, we blindly demand things from God or we have all sorts of extravagant requests for God. For example: if we do not have a job, we ask God to provide us with work. If we do not have a child, we ask God to bestow a child to us. If we are sick, we ask God to cure our illness. If our families are experiencing difficulties, we ask God to help us out. Business people pray to God and ask Him to bless them so that they can make lots of money. Students ask God to bless them with intelligence and wisdom. Old people ask God to protect them from sickness and calamities so that they can spend their last years in peace. In life, regardless of what difficulties and trials we encounter, we are never able to submit to God’s arrangements. We always hope that God would save us from our troubles so that we would no longer suffer. We always ask the Lord to protect us so that we can be happy and peaceful. This type of prayer is not a prayer from one of God’s creations to God. Instead, it involves asking God for things and asking Him to do things in accordance with our own thoughts. When people believe in God, they hope that God will satisfy all their requests and desires. This is basically entering into a business deal with God and it is without a shred of conscience or rationality. These kinds of people do not have genuine faith and love for God nor do they genuinely obey or revere God. They are instead using God to attain their goals. This is precisely as God said, “This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Therefore, God does not listen to prayers that people make with improper intentions.
Third, does our church have the Holy Spirit’s work?
Recall the initial stage of the Age of Law when the temple contained the work of the Holy Spirit. When people committed sins, they received the Holy Spirit’s discipline. If the priests who were serving God broke the law, fire would come down straight from heaven and burn them to death. People were very afraid and they had hearts that revered God. However, during the latter period of the Age of Law when Jesus appeared and worked, the Jewish people could not keep the law, used the temple as a place to exchange money and sell livestock. They had turned the temple into a den of thieves. It no longer contained the Holy Spirit’s discipline. Since the Holy Spirit had already left the temple in order to defend the work of Jesus, those people who stayed in the temple and refused to accept the salvation of Jesus were eliminated by God’s work, falling into darkness. Even though they prayed in the name of Jehovah, God did not listen. Even more so, they were unable to obtain the Holy Spirit’s work.
Let’s take a look at our church today. The pastors and elders’ sermons are dull. There is no new light. Brothers and sisters do not receive life nourishment, and their spirits become more and more withered and dark and unable to feel the Holy Spirit’s presence. They would even start to lust for flesh and the pleasures of life as well as seek status and power. Conflicts would erupt between co-workers. Their transgressions would frequently claim victory over them and they would not feel indebted to the Lord. They do not follow the Lord’s words, nor do they keep His commandments. They have totally violated God’s will, becoming the ones who resist God…. What is the difference between this kind of church and the temple that existed in the later period of the Age of Law? This completely fulfills the prophecy in the Bible, “And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to me, said Jehovah” (Amos 4:7–8). Actually, God has left the church of the Age of Grace. There are many brothers and sisters who clearly feel that the church no longer has the Holy Spirit’s work and that God has already covered His face from us. So how is it possible that our spirits do not become withered? How could God listen to our prayers?
- First, we must pray in spirit, pray sincerely and say true things that come from our hearts.
- Second, we should stand in the place of a created being and have no demands for God; we must pray with a heart that submits to God.
- Third, if our church does not have the Holy Spirit’s work, we must have prayers of seeking.
The three circumstances mentioned above are the main reasons why the Lord does not listen to our prayers. All we can do is come before the Lord, seek His intentions and reflect upon these issues. We must also seek how to pray to the Lord so that He would listen. This is a truth that we urgently need to enter. Now, I will share with everybody three methods of implementation so that you will know how to pray in accordance with God’s intentions. As long as we are able to put them into action and practice every day with our heart, I believe that the Lord will listen to our prayers.
First, we must pray in spirit, pray sincerely and say true things that come from our hearts.
We all know that God is faithful. With God, there is no treachery, no hypocrisy and no lies. God is sincere with each and every one of us. God also hopes that we will pray sincerely and honestly to Him. This is just as Jesus said: “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). Therefore, when we pray, we should speak frankly to God. If we are weak, we should say that we are weak. Whatever thoughts, ideas, pain, difficulties, or things that we have done which are not in accordance with God’s intentions, we should completely open up our hearts and tell God about them. There are some words and some matters that we would feel embarrassed to admit to other people. However, we cannot hide these things from God. We must open up our hearts to God and tell God about them honestly. When God sees that our hearts are wide open to Him and that we are not concealing anything from Him and furthermore, we are saying things that come straight from our hearts and that we are speaking very honestly to God, God will guide us to understanding His intentions and understanding all aspects of the truth. This will give us a path to walk.
Additionally, when we pray, we must quiet ourselves before God. We must pray to God with a concentrated heart. We must not be half-hearted or have words without a heart. When we speak with our parents, we are able to respect them. Our attitude toward them is sincere. Is it not because they are our elders and have raised us? God created us, bestowed life upon us, provided us with everything we need to live and He has bestowed the truth upon us. Shouldn’t it then be even more important that we pray to God with a reverent heart? Regardless of what we pray to God about, we must have a devout heart and seek God’s intentions and tell Him with honesty about our own thoughts, difficulties and we should patiently wait for God’s time. Only in this way will we obtain God’s enlightenment and guidance, and understand His intentions. Then our difficulties will be resolved in time.
Second, we should stand in the place of a created being and have no demands for God; we must pray with a heart that submits to God.
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When we pray, we must be clear that we are creations and God is our Creator. God holds all things and events in His hands. Our all is controlled by God. Whatever we encounter each and every day, regardless if it is a major matter or a minor matter, all of it is due to God’s arrangements. When we pray to God, we should stand firm in our position as creations, and seek God’s will with a devout and submissive attitude before God. We should not have any demands for God. For example, when we encounter difficulties and we do not know what to do, we can pray like this: “God! I do not understand the truth in regard to this matter. I do not know how I should do things in accordance with Your intentions. However, I am willing to seek in Your words and do things in accordance with Your requests and to satisfy Your intentions. Please enlighten and guide me. Amen!” When our hearts have a place for God and when we can stand in the place of a creation and pray, prostrate, give worship to our Creator, and when we can obey His work and put His words into action, only then will we build a normal relationship with God and obtain the Holy Spirit’s work. We all know Job was a man that feared God and shunned evil. When he lost all his livestock, sons and daughters, was covered with sores from head to toe and was enduring a great deal of pain, he believed that God was the ruler of everything and that without God’s permission, these things would not have befallen him. Furthermore, he also knew that everything that he had including his life was given to him by God. Regardless of when God wants to collect, it is natural and proper. Therefore, he did not complain to God nor did he have any demands for God. As a result, he bent over and worshiped and with a heart of submission he prayed to God. He said these words: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job stood firm and bore witness for God. His sense and his submission to God obtained God’s praise. If we are also able to address God in the way that Job did, if we have a place for God in our hearts and if we are able to pray to God with a heart that submits to God regardless of what trials we encounter, God will guide us and enlighten us so that we will understand the truth. Our spirits will become more and more sharp and our thoughts will be more and more clear. When we reveal some corruption or have some bad situations, it will be even easier for us to be conscious about it and resolve it in time. Then, our relationship with God will become more and more close and our life will grow faster and faster.
Third, if our church does not have the Holy Spirit’s work, we must have prayers of seeking.
We all know, in the later period of the Age of Law, man was corrupted more and more deeply by Satan. Man lived within sin and he faced the danger of being convicted by the law and put to death. Then, God, under the name of Jesus, ended the Age of Law, started the Age of Grace and did the work of redeeming the human race. From then on, Judaism completely lost God’s glorious presence. For all those who did not accept the Lord Jesus’ name and work, regardless of what circumstances they encountered and regardless of how they prayed and appealed to Jehovah God, God would not listen to them and they would not obtain the Holy Spirit’s work. However, all those who accepted Jesus’ new work and prayed in the name of Jesus would enjoy the nourishment of God’s living water fountain. When they called on the Lord they would be able to see God’s deeds and they would have the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit’s work.
Nowadays, regardless of how we pray in the Lord’s name, we do not feel the Holy Spirit’s work, and we cannot sense His presence. We cannot obtain nourishment for our lives and we commit sins but do not receive discipline. It is very possible that the Holy Spirit’s work has once again been diverted. The Bible says, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). From these verses we can see that, in the last days, God will return once more to do the stage of judgement work. The Lord is faithful. What He says will happen, will happen. As for us, we should seek and pray, asking God to guide us to the fountain of life so that we can obtain watering and nourishment and follow the footsteps of our Lord. I believe that as long as we have a heart that thirsts and seeks, we will obtain God’s guidance. This is because God has promised us, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Thank the Lord for His guidance. I hope that the content that was shared today in regard to how to pray will benefit everybody. Prayer is an important step in establishing a normal relationship with God. It is also a key path through which we can obtain the Holy Spirit’s work. When we understand how to pray to obtain the Lord’s response and have a practical path to follow and when we practice it often, only then will the Lord hear our prayers. May our prayers soon be in accordance with God’s intentions.
May all the glory be unto God!
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