This content is adapted from the Joel Jovaine YouTube channel.
Have you ever felt like your prayers aren’t being answered? In this topic, Joel Jovaine explains how to understand why your prayers aren’t being answered.
- Joel believers every prayer is answered, but not every prayer is answered the way we would like it to be. “Yes,” “no,” and “not now” are all valid answers to requests to God. A better question might be, “Why is God not saying ‘yes’ to my prayers?’
- In Matthew 7:7 and Mark 11:24, Jesus tells his listeners to “Ask, and it shall be given.” The Lord invites us to bring our requests before him, but these statements have conditions. We can’t ask God for anything and everything we want and expect to receive it. He is not our butler.
Matthew 7:7-11 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
- When we pray, we must ask in Jesus’s name (John 14:14). This is not a magic phrase that will ensure a “yes” response from God just by tacking on Jesus’s name to the end of your prayers! It means to ask with a God’s-eye perspective, to ask for the sorts of things God desires, and to understand what he considers to be “good.” Praying for things that are contrary to God’s will and character will guarantee a “no” answer. The problem is that we often don’t know if our prayers are contrary to God’s will, and sometimes, even things that appear to us to be “good” might not be what is best for us at this time.
- 1 John 5:14 tells us to pray to God “according to his will.” This is another way of saying we should pray in Jesus’s name. This kind of mindset doesn’t simply expect a “yes” answer from God, but it allows us to be open to changing what we ask God, how we ask, and how we will react no matter what the answer from God is. Prayer is about learning to trust God.
If you feel that God has not been answering your prayers, look harder. Are you praying with a “God’s eye” view of things? Are you praying in Jesus’s name? Are you asking according to God’s will? Are you asking for the sorts of things scripture reveals to be God’s will? And even if you are, are you praying with the recognition that God is in charge, and he knows what is best for his children? The best example of this is Jesus’s prayer to God the Father shortly before his crucifixion, when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:39 My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.
Do you pray like Jesus in the garden, always saying to God: “Your will be done, not mine?” Shortly after praying this prayer, Jesus went to the cross.
Don’t give up on prayer because things don’t seem to be going your way. Remember that God is in control, that he promises to provide our needs – not our “greeds.” Maybe the real issue is that in your limited knowledge, you don’t truly understand what is best. But God always does.
1 John 5:14-15 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What sort of things do you normally pray for? Why are you praying for these things?
- Have you ever felt like your prayers aren’t being answered? What happened?
- Give an example of what it would mean to pray for good things in Jesus’s name.
- What does it mean if you ask for good things in Jesus’s name but you still don’t get the “yes” answer you’re looking for right away?
- God knows everything. How does this affect how he answer our prayers?
- Read Matthew 6:31-33. What conditions do these verses establish for receiving everything we need?
- Are you open to allowing God to change the sorts of things you pray for, or how you pray for them? Do you pray like Jesus in the garden? Why is this important?
- Joel asks, “Do you need to be more patient in your prayers? Are you asking for things that will pull you away from God? Are you asking for things that are according to the will of God?” How do you answer these questions?
- “Prayer is about learning to trust God.” Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.