Why doesn't God hear or answer me? Why do I have unanswered prayers?

Few attitudes are more disheartening and destructive to faith than the feeling that God doesn't hear our prayers, doesn't answer or doesn't care. It is easy to come to such conclusions when God doesn't respond when or how we want.


The apostle Paul was a man who could have concluded that God doesn't listen to people. After all, he urgently pleaded with God to intervene for him in a chronic trial. But God refused to grant Paul's request.

Does this mean Paul lacked faith? Of course not. However, there is a deeper lesson for us in Paul's life of living faith.

When Paul pleaded with God

Notice Paul's account of this trial: "There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me" (2 Corinthians:12:7-8, New International Version).

What was this trial that tormented Paul? Comments in Paul's writings hint it may have been a problem with his eyes (Galatians:4:13-15; 6:11).

The implication is that Paul fervently asked God to deliver him from the trial, no doubt with fasting and heartfelt prayer (2 Corinthians:11:27). He wanted this hindrance removed so he could continue to spread the gospel effectively and care for the congregations God had raised up.

God's answer to Paul

Paul could have concluded that God had not heard his pleas. But this is not the case. God simply gave Paul a different answer: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians:12:9).

Whether God directly spoke these words to Paul or whether Paul gradually came to this understanding of God's will isn't clear from the Greek wording. What is clear is that Paul came to a deeper spiritual understanding that strengthened his faith and commitment.

Paul came to see that the credit belonged to God and Jesus Christ rather than to himself and that his weakness drew him closer to that source of power and strength. "I am therefore happy to boast of my weaknesses, because then the power of Christ will rest upon me. So I am content with a life of weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and distress, all for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (verses 9-10, Revised English Bible).

Of course, Paul's experiences were not typical of what most modern Christians experience today. Along with his great trials, he also witnessed great miracles and evidence of God's power. Still Paul's "thorn in the flesh" stands as an important spiritual lesson for us. Sometimes when we experience unanswered prayers, God's answer for us is actually "no" or "not yet." God never intended our physical bodies to last forever. He has allotted us an existence of about 70 years (Psalm:90:10). He is far more concerned that we develop righteous character and a trusting relationship with Him that can last for eternity. He wants to resurrect us to eternal life in a glorious, immortal spirit body not subject to weakness, illness and death (1 Corinthians:15:40-44, 50-54).

In the meantime, Paul understood that God in His love will never allow us to fall into trials greater than we can endure. "But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians:10:13, NIV). Sometimes that "way out" is simply the determination to endure the trial, to "stand up under it."

Hearing God's will

Paul was not the only one who learned that living, trusting, abiding faith is more important than physical health and long life. Even Jesus, knowing that He faced a cruel death only hours away, prayed, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew:26:39). Jesus loved life and wanted to live as much as any of us. But He acknowledged a greater purpose for this physical life: "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke:22:42).

Jesus Christ, the perfect example of faith, knew God's will was more important that His.

God knows what is best for us in the long run, even if it may conflict with our short-term wants and desires. As Peter tells us, "[cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter:5:7). Paul says we should be "confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Because God works within us from a broader perspective to build faith and character, He doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we desire.

Some were delivered, some not

The Bible tells us at times "women received their dead raised to life again." But "others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment… And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us" (Hebrews:11:35-40).

Even when we have unanswered prayers, know that God does listen. He does not always answer our prayers to our immediate satisfaction and instantly deliver us from our trials. But He will always do what is best for us.

For more understanding please read our booklets Why Does God Allow Suffering and You Can Have Living Faith .

J Coleman

J Coleman's picture

God does answer prayer? His timing is not our timing and I do agree that he has our best interest in mind. I have a question that many are probably asking. If God said that he would look after all our NEEDS then why do we struggle each day with finances, relationships, work, etc.
I recently opened a business in the marine sector. Things where extremely busy and the business was moving along at a successful rate until about 6 months later when it seems like every customer we were dealing with fell off the face of the earth. Business and finances went down hill and still today we are struggling to keep the business open. Even our personal finances are exhausted. We have prayed hard and long and earnestly for God to help us through this time but each week we are just getting further in debt. If God hears our prayers and will meet our needs, then why are we struggling with this situation?


MarvinValeros's picture

Mr.J.Coleman, God helps us, he wants all the best things in our life, If you are praying to him, Pray the right prayers that you want him to hear and answer, "THE LORD GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS" but we must know what to do, we must work with him side by side and NEVER lose hope, remember this "ASK GOD FOR YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE, ASK HIM THE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO, ASK HIM TO GUIDE YOU IN EVERY WAKING DAY OF YOUR LIFE" , God will help you on the process, but you should take care of the details.

First go on to the business perspective, why did your business went down hill? Is there something wrong with your products?,all customers have money, you should make a way for them to buy your goods, (MAKE A BUSINESS STRATEGY).

We get mad and sad when things don't go the way we planned it to be.We are clouded by the thoughts that SHOULD happen, when in real life it does not always like that,some dreams come true, some don't, your other dreams needs to wait.

We are living in a world full of different people, some who knows God, some who don't and some who don't understand and some who does.

We need to hope for the BEST, Pray hard to him that he will help us get through this hardship.

and I pray that he may give you the strength to continue, the knowledge to use to make your life rich and happy.

SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD, then all these material things will be yours and everything will follow.


Farmerjim555's picture

The same as Mr J Coleman.
I am a retired executive, aged 62years. 3 months ago I felt that God had called me to assist my daughter and her husband in launching a new software product for their business. Although I am very much enjoying my retired lifestyle, feeling that God had called me to assist them, I reluctantly gave this up and promised to assist them for 3 months. Naturally I continued daily prayer for my task and product launch and over the 3 months I had face to face meetings with corporate clients, nearly all of whom loved the product. 3 months have passed without 1 product sale. My background prior to retiring was in consulting to the corporate sector and I was very successful in all aspects of sales and marketing and leading my company in this area. I believe the product I was working with is very good and so did most of the clients I demonstrated it to. I have had no negative feedback from clients re the product. I now feel I had mistaken God's call to assist them and to some extent have suffered some embarrassment in this whole episode.
So unanswered prayer again and it has shaken my faith without a doubt.


kim_1988's picture


Do not despair for you do not know what God has called you for to assist your daughter, he just called you, we are not to figure out why, just follow what he said. Those challenges are exactly to shake up our faith, but don't stop believing. It doesn't have to be successful right away, maybe that's exactly the trial part when it doesn't work out, to see if we believe in the call, in helping. If you know how to do this, it is not your fault that it hasn't worked out, I feel this is for some good godly reason and if you stay strong in faith and trust in God, when you least expect it you'll see the fruits (we don't always know in what form those fruits will come), just keep staring at God's eyes, deal with embarrassment. God also sometimes wants to strip us of our feeling of power; maybe knowing that you actually can't, gives it glory to God, and if this actually works out, to know it's not because of your long lived experience, but because it was a call from God and God is the one that will give you the blessings. He wants to let you know we can not do anything without Him, not even the small things we know how to.
So I am happy to hear sometimes powerlessness because it means we get closer to God and call on Him. God bless you so much and keep the faith in Him no matter what, no matter the dark circumstances.


Lovebostons's picture

I have prayed to God for so long about my living situation. I need to live in peaceful, safe environment and no matter how hard I try I can't get out. I've prayed about this and asked for guidance asked for help and nothing. Sometimes I feel like maybe I am in hell and this will never end. I am so tired. So lost. He does not answer prayers. And even the reason why He does not answer prayers cannot be answered.

What is the point? We are to know that we cannot do anything without Him? Well, I know that. That is why I go to Him for help in the first place because I know I can't do this without Him. But....He doesn't help.

I feel stupid just writing this because the proof that god does not answer prayers says to me he does not exist. So why am I even here?

Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Dear LoveBostons,

I’m so sorry about your difficult situation. I am certainly praying for you.

It was impressed on me to go back and read the article, and after reading it, I think part of the answer lies here: We might have in mind a certain way God must answer our prayer, but have you considered that He may want you to remain where you are, at least for the time being? I definitely believe in answered prayer, but sometimes the answer for me has been No, or more often, Not yet. His perfect timing is best. Perhaps you will learn something that you can’t see right now, especially if you learn to accept or work with the situation. Sometimes I have been delivered from a trial at about the time I had just learned to accept it!

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t change anything at all about it. And by all means don’t give up asking God to help you to move out of your place if and when it is according to His will – persistence in prayer isn’t wrong (Lk 18:1-8), but perhaps ask Him also to show you what to do in the meantime. I don’t know your exact situation, of course, but perhaps He will show others through you, how to have a good attitude and serve Him despite trying circumstances. It is through the difficult times in life that our heavenly Father sees what we are made of, when we develop sterling character.

I am reminded of the man who told Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mk 9:23-24). He did have a grain of faith, but he cried out to Jesus for more, realizing his lack, and how much he needed divine help.

I do hope this helps. Continuing to pray for you.

Perhaps this link would be helpful:



chrispybacon's picture

I have read all the above comments with interest. J Coleman, and Farmer Jim I am in a similar situation. I know how it feels guys! I am also really trying to do my best in business, trying to work and pray hard. Trying to be well meaning, sincere, and hard working. I am in retail - and sometimes I have a good run, a string of nice sales, and then...I hit a dry patch, when finances just dry up, and I am left short, and somewhat embarrassed - polite excuses to friends invitations, debts building up. My savings are exhausted now. People like my products, I get repeat business, but its those prolonged and unexplained quiet spells that are so hard.

Its worrying, and I wonder, like J Coleman about my needs being met. I wonder possibly that sometimes God is holding things back from us to test our hearts and determination, and faith in Him. Well I haven't starved yet, so that's so that's more than some people in the world have!

Right now I am back on the dry period, the bills keep coming with regularity, and the orders simply aren't... In honesty I don't feel like I have gone far wrong with my relationship with God,
I search my heart and wonder if I have lost my way, or done something to offend God, but I think I am doing ok. Possibly sometimes a lack of faith, but its not easy when you seeing the bills piling up, and my efforts failing.

Having said all that I do believe without a doubt God hears our prayers. We must be positive in being flexible and innovative to refine what we are doing, pick ourselves up and have another go. I believe God loves perseverance, and determination.
He also doesn't promise life will be easy, and I console myself with keeping on trying, and giving thanks through these trials...He must know that we cant carry on like this forever. The bills wont wait.

One thing I struggle with is praying for guidance on an issue, and being unable to hear or feel a response. I mean specific important decisions, key matters to the future of the business. I seek Gods input, but sometimes the answer isn't easy to locate.

Hope this is of help to others


woman of faith

woman of faith's picture

God is faithful, and he does answer prayers. when we pray we should not tell God the solutions for our problems, we must tell him our problems only, and he will solve our problems in his own way, at his own time. if you are poor, when you pray you should tell God your problem, that you need him to help you cause you are poor, God is full of wisdom, he will decide the best way to solve your poverty issue, he might give you a job, or a great business idea and people who will help you to implement your idea and generate cash, or he might give you a scholarship to go and study, or he might enable you to use your gifts/talent to get provision. so we must not program God, just because you are facing that mountain in your life, it does mean God will remove it, he might decide to give you strength to climb it, so we should be open minded when we are waiting for our answers from GOD,

We must not limit God, he power is unlimited, as long as we trust him, we shall see goodness in the land of living.amen


brian123's picture

why is always God's time? Why? I can't tell the bill collectors that? What purpose does God get out of this to see me suffer? How come he has yet to give me an answer? A simple yes or no? I don't understand a God so merciful would do this to his creatures?

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