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.


Answer:

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

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

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

kim_1988's picture

Farmerjim555

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

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:

http://www.ucg.org/files/booklets/lifes-ultimate-question-does-god-exist...




chrispybacon

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

C




woman of faith

woman of faith's picture

God does answer prayers, when we pray we should not tell God the solutions for our problems, we should tell him our problems only, he will solve our problems in his own way, at his own time. if you are suffering from poverty, you ought to tell God your problem, that you are poor ,God will decide whether he gives a job, or a great business idea, or a scholarship to go and study, or perhaps God want you to use your gifts in order to get provision, so God does answer prayers, as long as we give him a platform to do things in his own way, at his own time, we shall see his goodness in the land of living.




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

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?




brian123

brian123's picture

At least you have a job. I know life isn't easy, but why? Isn't he the God of mercy? Isn't he like a father, helping us "children" as a father I help my son and explain to him when he cannot have things or do things. I ask this from God, but I don't get an answer? He expects blind faith or he'll send us to hell. Why?
Why would you send your child to hell? I for one would not. Doesn't it hurt him to kill his family? To see us suffer? Why would a God of mercy do this? Why does he only help his children in BC? Why? Like others on here, all we're asking is for some help or atleast an answer. We're not looking for lottery winnings or supermodel greatness, we're asking for help a hope that we can do right for our families. Then get nothing in return but, cliche sayings like, "in His time." I cannot live on that, no one can and say that and expect someone to use that is utter nonsense. I would love some answers.




EvanToledo

EvanToledo's picture

I appreciated reading all the responses so far. I certainly have "been there and done that" in the many years I've been on both the inside and outside of God's Church.

I think many people today have the mistaken idea that God should make everything work out the way we want all the time and that our physical lives now should be comfortable and successful.

Remember, all we deserve is death. (Romans:6:23) But thanks to God for having a plan to eventually bring us into His own family, we can choose life, if we repent and obey Him!

There is NO guarantee our lives now will be wonderful and peaceful--many of God's most loved and faithful servants throughout history had tough times and some even lost their lives for their beliefs.

Peek at the last chapters in the Bible--Revelation 21 & 22. God's Plan will then be a reality! Those who love and obey Him will inherit all things--do you realize how WONDERFUL that is? There is a reason there are countless stars and galaxies in the universe--YOU can inherit them and be part of God's family FOREVER!

This life is only a training ground for the incredible life God the Father and Jesus Christ are planning for you!!

This is the wonderful subject of UCG's September 10 presentation in Cincinnati--I pray it will be a big success!! In the meantime, order or view online the two booklets suggested---and for that matter, explore this resourceful website!




xilinxguy

xilinxguy's picture

In Matthew:26:39, Jesus asks the Father that His life be spared. The Father heard His prayer, but denied the request. Jesus made a perfectly reasonable request--spare My life. The prayer was answered, and the answer was an obvious NO. Jesus accepted it. I believe God answers all our prayers; it is just that the answer sometimes isn't what we wanted. How often have we had our child, our spouse or even our employee make a reasonable request from us, only to have it denied by us because it didn't fit the overall "plan"? Yet, the petitioner will claim "you didn't answer my request." We did--the answer was still NO. God is trying to instill within us His perfect character. How can that be done when we are not tested? we are not tempered? Can a child learn patience and perseverance without experiencing denial? Can a student earn a degree without studying? Can a soldier become a general without ever learning to follow orders? All the answers should be an obvious NO. God answers ALL prayers. Its just sometimes the answer is a tough one to swallow.




Norbert Z

Norbert Z's picture

brian123, your words leave the impression that God is sending bill collectors to your door. So what if He did? He sent Satan to do things to Job. Was He being unrighteous and lacking mercy with Job's life?

The way I see it, God allows circumstances to enter our lives as a vehicle and means for us to figure out the correct answer to our OWN questions. For us to develop and grow the mind Christ. This takes OUR time and God is gracious to give that to us.

Psalm:32:8-9




rwp_47

rwp_47's picture

I'm not living high on the hog so it must be God's fault ... my business isn't doing well so that must mean God's not taking proper care of me and he's not answering my prayers ... I wanted to be the prom queen but Martha was made queen instead - how can I believe in God after that? I felt that God was wanting me to invest my life savings into trying to fit this square peg in that round hole ... but it turned out it didn't fit and now I'm embarrassed and broke ... how can I rely on God now after he did such a pathetic job of taking care of me? I'm not sure I wouldn't be better off with him!

Really people? ... really?

What if it turns out that God is actually the one causing your problems - that he's actually bringing the problems on you intentionally?! What would you think then? You don't think that could happen? Then evidently you never read the book of Job - or at least you didn't read it with understanding ... or maybe you just thought it was good fiction reading. Somehow you missed how God bated Satan into making job's life unbearable. Talk about business failure - everything he had was wiped out - his children were murdered - and more! I mean stop and think about it. You think you'd like to trade places with Job? Or Jesus even ... would you like to trade his human life for yours? Is that how you'd like to end up ... crucified - spit on - hated? But don't we look on these men and these stories with reverent awe? What kind of fantasy land are we living in? What exactly do we think is going on? Maybe we didn't see the sigh ... you know ... the one that said: "WARNING ... GOD AT WORK!!!!!"
And I don't say these thing to minimize our problems or to be unsympathetic. Because trials can be heart crushingly hard. But we need to get a grip - and understand - its not about us and what we want - its about him and what he wants. Remember - "... all things were created by him, AND FOR HIM." [Col:1:16] And you're one of those things. He wasn't created by you for you. You were created by him - FOR HIM. The very moment you forget that - you're problems begin compounding and you loose your way. So don't forget it - and work hard and intelligently at solving your own problems. Remember the old saying - "God helps those who help themselves". Probably some truth in that. So live accordingly.




cjgennaro

cjgennaro's picture

Something else to keep in mind is that God is not the reason for our suffering. Satan is the god of this world for the time being. Suffering is caused by sin and Satan's influence. Oftentimes, our sin has separated us from God. It may be for our own good that He does not answer our prayers in that situation. Then we may say,"What am I doing wrong to not be closer to God than I am?"

Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. And drawing near does not just mean when we are in need. Then He may answer and we forget about Him the next day. Without ever learning the lesson He wanted




TS

TS's picture

Yes God does help those who help themselves but then thats just what it is us helping ourselves...if we can? To be able to help ourselves we need to ask God to come into our lives, give us wisdom, grace, discernment and all the other qualities he wants us to have to be like HIM
We are not able to do things on our own, though we try hard to do so and fail, this is how we learn we need him in everything we do. The key is are we letting him lead and doing all the things needed for him to work in our lives...reading, searching, praying, learning, serving...
I have to ask myself this continuously as I don't seem to get the clear answer I need to find direction in my life.

I to am self employed (24yrs) and just had to stop working because of anxiety that then caused depression, I certainly do not understand why I am left to go though this. We have a 4 yr old to support and now I am without an income, being a one man show there is no one to keep things running while I try and heal myself. God knows this, I don't understand why the answers are not obvious? What am I doing wrong???




Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi TS,

You seem to be on the right path, in seeking God and relying on Him. Jesus did say it would be challenging to follow Him (Acts:14:22), but that our load would be relatively light if we learn to give Him our burdens (Mt 11:28-30, 1 Pet:5:6-7).

Don’t give up. It’s good you are asking those questions, but remember that God has other purposes in trials, too - to build His character in us (Jas 1:2-4, 1 Pet:1:6-7, 1 Pet:4:12), to teach us and others lessons of compassion (2 Cor:1:3-4), and sometimes for reasons we are unable to fathom at the time. I have asked questions like yours multiple times in my life, and the reasons were not forthcoming for a long while, but later, I began to see many things God had taught me through allowing me to go through the trial or trials.

Continue seeking your heavenly Father, and if you aren't already doing so, I would also recommend seeking the fellowship of other believers who can encourage you in doing what is right. In cities all over the U.S and world, United Church of God has congregations with caring pastors and members who give one another support as we all strive to live God’s way of life. Check out this link, where you will also be able to contact a pastor in your area if you wish:

http://www.ucg.org/find-congregation/




Norbert Z

Norbert Z's picture

TS, there are very clear answers that give direction for our lives, the Ten Commandments to start with.

From my experience, I've worked with immigrants that have escaped far greater anxiety of their third world origin and then entered our first world with its' problems. The thing is, it doesn't cause them depression.

So what's the difference? They continue to manage and even prosper while you are struggling with depression.




BeenThereDoneTi...

BeenThereDoneTimeAndAgain's picture

As usual there are two camps here... the ones who suffer in real time and the ones living theoretical lives. For the first party, I feel your pain as I have suffered through three business start-ups and failures with all the emotions. For those living untested lives, I've been a Christian for almost half a century and am familiar with all your quotations.

For the first group. I've prayed most "recently" for more than 12 years without seemingly a "rescue" from God. This is all I have to say to you... It comes down to a choice. You have free will, a gift, to decide if despite all your troubles God is still God. If so, then have courage and empower your trust to the end.

To the second group. I hope that you continue to live a life without the hardships that many of us have gone through. I've finally realized that just like professors and real life workers, one is living in an ivory tower where everything looks fine and the other is toiling with pain and fear on top of angst and sorrow. If you have the courage, pray for your life to be harsh so that you develop into a finer character with true empathy. If not, then hope that your easy life continues to support your simple faith. The choice is also yours.

God is God no matter what. We are His creation, not the other way around. Religion is created by man; we suffer in the hands of man, not God. Disappointment is from misleading teachings of man, not the Bible. If you set your expectations correctly you will not be disappointed. Have a good earthly life.




Love my Faith

Love my Faith's picture

My precious husband passed away over 2 years ago. We were extremely close, and I still miss him constantly.
.
On the day of his funeral, I came home and realized how totally alone I was. I said to God: "It's just You and me now. Please lead the way." (my surrender)
.
Being devastated with grief, I could only do contemplative prayer to this very day...all throughout the day, every day.
And I thank God for all that I have and don't have.
.
Before the funeral and after surrendering to God, I continue to have over-lapping trials, struggles, and problems that I cannot keep up with. It gets so over-whelming and very defeating. I've had numerous bereavement sessions (and still), had Spiritual counseling,joined a Christian Spiritual group, and I take a med for depression. I go to Church regularly, read Scripture, and inspirational readings. I continue to offer all to God, to put everything in His Hands, but nothing changes or some things get worse.
.
I feel no differently. I don't sense any consolations from God or sense any guidance from Him. My life is in limbo. I am only existing.
I don't know where to turn or what to do already.
.
Please, any suggestions or advice??




Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi BeenThere,

I’ve heard the saying, We should be kind to all, because all are fighting some sort of battle. We never know what a particular individual has suffered, and not everyone on this discussion thread would necessarily want or feel it appropriate to share everything that they’ve endured. Perhaps some of those on here that are giving advice, and seem to be looking down from their “ivory towers,” are actually those who have come out of great suffering themselves. Maybe, or maybe not, but I hope you can take comfort in knowing that even the proud will meet their Maker someday too, and if not humbled by then, will have their just reward (Isa:2:10-12; Mal:4:1).

Religion is created by man? Well, perhaps many times it is, but true and undefiled religion is to visit the widows and orphans in their affliction, and to keep one’s self unstained from this world (Jas 1:27). I believe many of us try to live these words even as we ourselves suffer adversity, and it’s in reaching out to others who are suffering that we become more compassionate individuals (2 Cor:1:4-7).

I truly am sorry to hear of your hardships and suffering, and sincerely pray that things will improve for you. You’re certainly right about not letting anything get in the way of trusting in God to the end. He is the only One who can empower us with what it takes to keep going, and while doing so, to build His righteous character in us (Heb:12:11).



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