God answers prayers.
There are countless instances of that.
But sometimes, He doesn’t. And that’s not because He doesn’t like your face or because you haven’t thrown enough bucks around. No. It’s because there are certain things that restrain Him from doing so.
The kingdom of God operates by principles. And it is not in the nature of God to violate them (at will).
Here are four principal issues that could stay God’s hand when it comes to granting prayer requests.
#1. What You Are Asking for is Not Aligned With God’s Will
Even though we have the liberty to ask anything from God, if such does not come within the government of His will, the chances of getting it are extremely low.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, weighed upon by pressure from His humanity, prayed to the Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39).
In the end, God did not allow the cup to pass; because that was not His will. Instead, He allowed an angel to come and strengthen Him so He could bear it (Luke 22:43). He did something similar to Paul when he asked that the thorn in his flesh be taken away. He let Paul go through it but assured him, “my grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
While expounding many things to the believers, John the apostle affirmed the principle of God’s will, when he wrote, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).
#2. You Are Not Praying in Faith
The only problem with our prayer at times may be the recurring presence of doubt.
See what the Bible says in James 1:6-7,
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (NIV)
Certain times, when we pray, our doubt is not expressed plainly; it gets anchored by fear. But what moves God more is faith anchored by confidence.
On a number of times, in the gospels, Jesus cautioned against doubt and fear.
#3. You Are Asking Amiss
“You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3).
Often times we forget that our motives matter whenever we launch a supplication to God. He considers our intents and motivation for asking for certain things. If they are carnal, worldly and simply sponsored by the flesh, He pulls back.
That’s because He wants His people to be driven from a higher plane of service, value and impact, rather than vanity, materialism and worldliness. He wants His people to be spirit-driven and not propelled by fleshly lusts.
#4. Sin is Causing a Roadblock
Sometimes, our prayers get stuck somewhere in the waves, because there is presence of sin that’s constituting a hindrance.
The bible says in 1 Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
In Isaiah 59:1-3, scripture says, Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.
Remember also, that Jesus made it clear that as long as we do not forgive others, we won’t also be forgiven (Matthew 6:15). And of course, asking for forgiveness is a prayer in itself.
The other dimension to it is that unforgiveness opens up someone to affliction (Matthew 18:34-35). And no amount of prayers will take it away, until one lets go of the person from the heart.
I have witnessed first-hand, cases where people got delivered from protracted infirmity the moment they decided from their heart to let go of someone who hurt them.
Many giants of faith have had much success in prayer by merely avoiding these little foxes.
There’d surely be no harm in following suit.
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.