6 Reasons Your Prayers Aren't Working

Uncategorized Apr 12, 2017

  In this article you will learn 6 reasons your prayers aren’t working, and how to fix what’s wrong. If your prayers seem to be hindered, most likely you are dealing with one or more of these issues.  As you read, you might recognize the issue in your own prayer life. When you do, confess and repent of what you were doing wrong  and your prayer life will explode in power.

Why aren’t my prayers working?
  Of course there are barriers to prayer. Here are a few that I have identified in my own life.

1. Unforgiveness.

  This is the barrier Jesus mentioned when he taught his disciples to pray.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

  Think about the implication of this verse. Jesus said, that if we forgive others, His Father will forgive us. But, if we do not forgive others, His Father will not forgive us. If God refuses to forgive you of your sins, you don’t have a chance of having your prayers answered. Your prayers will be no more powerful than those offered to false gods, or those offered to God under false pretense.

  Unforgiveness separates us from God. Satan knows this very well. And that is why he’s learned to “bait” us with the bitterness of offense. John Bevere wrote a book called, “The Bait of Satan.” In it he presents the case that the enemy lures us into his wicked snare with the bait of offense.

“ The issue of offense is often the most difficult obstacle an individual must face and overcome. Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses should come” (Luke 17:1). You cannot choose whether or not you will be offended, but you can choose how you will respond.”

  Check out John and Lisa Bevere’s website at www.messengerinternational.org

  I don’t know about you, but I am so easily offended. Somebody does me wrong, I am undone, my rights have been violated, few seem to care and so I get angry and bitter. But then, God says I have to let all of that go. His reasoning is this: how can any one of us erect an idol to our wounded spirits when the God of the Universe, the One who is perfect in every way, the One who has never committed an offense against anyone, chooses to forgive us? We simply cannot. Or, perhaps we can, but if we do, we can’t expect God to hear us when we pray. Unforgiveness is a terrible and common barrier to answered prayer.  My friend Neil Anderson, founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries teaches much about forgiveness. Here is one of my favorite quotes:


Simply put, forgiving is releasing a debt.  It is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin and relinquishing the right to seek revenge which God assures us is His domain.

(see Romans 12:17-21).

   Some teach that God forgives and then forgets our sins. They use Psalm 103:12 to support their belief. When the psalmist wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” he was not speaking of the forgetfulness of God (Is there anything God cannot know?) but rather of the tremendous mercy, grace, compassion and lovingkindness of God.

  For although God, who knows all things, remembers even the sins we have forgotten, He chooses not to hold those sins against us. He puts them away and determines not to allow our wrong-doing to impact the way he feels about us or relates to us. This is the kind of forgiveness God commands us to offer others. Because we have been forgiven, God expects us to forgive, especially if we want our prayers to be answered.

(Please go visit Neil Anderson’s website and his teaching onforgiveness. )


2. Unbelief.

   Part of that secret is to answered prayer is to “trust God to answer.” You cannot experience answered prayer without believing God. Scripture states this truth plainly:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

   Jesus was more impressed with faith than anything else. He was more disappointed over the lack of faith than anything else. Faith releases the power of God to perform miracles in our midst. If you want your prayers to be answered, you must believe that God wants to answer them, and then you must pray until He does.

  For many years I’ve settled myself in a half truth. Because my prayers were not being answered I allowed that problem to turn my focus more on the practice of prayer than on the reward of prayer. It was as if I’d left on a trip to London and got stuck in Amsterdam. Then, instead of ever getting to London I convinced myself that Amsterdam was God’s purpose for me all along.

  We do this when we teach that the main purpose of prayer is to change us (as opposed to changing God). And of course, I do believe that one of the main purposes of prayer is to change me, for God is perfect and never in need of changing. But, the more I pray, the more I realize that the main purpose of my prayers is for God to answer them.


  Replace your unbelief with hope.  Hope is applying the joy of tomorrow’s victory to today’s battle. Hope is confident assurance, faith applied, innocent trust.


   Holly Gerth, a great encourager wrote this prayer,



Sometimes this world is hard to understand.

And even when we trust you, our hearts still ache.

So we come to you today asking for the hope we need.

Hope that sees past the here-and-now to the then-and-there.

Hope that believes what we cannot yet glimpse.

Hope that holds our hearts up in the moments when life brings us to our knees.

  To read more of her prayer, click here .


3. Idolatry and high places.


  I recognized this barrier to prayer a few weeks ago. I have a prayer in my life that I have been sharing with the LORD for 8 years. I’m in the midst of a challenge to read the Bible in 90 days and as my Bible reading took me on a quick tour of the kings (in the Old Testament), a simple statement struck me powerfully. This was said about Judah’s king (a descendant of David), Amaziah.


“Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.” 2 Chronicles 25:2

 The Scripture went on to say that Amaziah failed to tear down the high places (he was not the only king who received this indictment at the end of his life). These high places were altars built for the worship of pagan gods. They distracted the people of God from worshiping Him only. By their very existence the high places hindered God from full release of His passionate desire to pour out His favor on His children. The holiness of God cannot condone, excuse, or dismiss willful disobedience (sin) or dual allegiance (love for anyone or anything other than God). The first commandment is this:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

  As I further studied the high places, I came under conviction that I had allowed my prayer request, the burning desire of my heart to become a high place.  With God’s reluctance to answer my prayer I’d allowed it to become an idol. I was consumed with thoughts and my emotions were immersed in the urgency of my request. The request itself had become a barrier to the answer I so desperately longed to experience.

  Idolatry rouses the wrath of God like nothing else. God hates idol worship because it offends Him and destroys us. Look at what John Piper said about the worship of idols.

“If we find God to be so boring or so negligible that we must put other things in his place that really satisfy us more than he does, then we not only offend him, but we also destroy ourselves. And those two things make God angry. He doesn't want to be offended and he doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves. And idolatry contradicts both of those things and so his wrath comes upon the idolater.” John Piper  (Take time to read John Piper’s interview “What is Idolatry?” by clicking on this link, "What is Idolatry?" 

   The moment I recognized my prayer request had become my idol, I set out to tear down this high place. I confessed my sin of idol worship. I recognized that I’d chosen to love more the object of my affection and less the LORD of my life. My entire spiritual life was out of kilter, where I was created to orbit around the Son, I’d chosen to orbit around something and someone far less able to handle my worship.

  As I confessed my sin of idolatry, suddenly my eyes were open and I began to see how I’d been much of the hindrance to God’s working in response to my prayers. Now I continue to pray from the position of complete surrender and I am amazed at how clearly I see my place in God’s plan. God immediately lifted the heavy burden I’d been carrying. I am walking today in total confidence that God (and only God) will answer this prayer. I can trust Him to answer and I am growing to realize He IS the answer! Don’t forget:

The secret to answered prayers is to trust God to answer them with Himself.

4. Laziness.

  One of the main reasons we don’t experience answers to our prayers is that we don’t pray.

You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2 (NIV)

  If you want to experience answered prayer, you need to pray. Prayer is hard work. It takes initiative, energy, focus and time. Prayer is not for those who are lazy. Prayer is not for those who have resigned themselves to living less than God’s best for their lives. In order to experience the power of prayer you must have a sense of, “there’s got to be more to living than this.”

  Don’t forget that the goal of prayer is to experience the answer to your prayer. And God delights in answering your prayers. Don’t grow weary, don’t give up; keep pressing in. Exercise your faith so that laziness is eliminated from your prayer life.

5. Pride and selfishness.

  Pride might truly be at the source of many of these other barriers. While pride in ones accomplishments or deep satisfaction over a job well-done is fine, the pride that seeks to prove and protect itself is a sin.

  “The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness is sin, and God hates it because it is a hindrance to seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their inability to come to God aside from His divine grace. The proud, on the other hand, are so blinded by their pride that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance.

  Read more at Got Questions 

  Pride that pushes you to independence will stop your prayers from being heard by God, much less answered. So, choose which you will be, full of pride and independence, or utterly helpless and at God’s mercy.  One will give you temporary bragging rights, the other will give you heaven’s glorious riches.

  Pride breeds self-worship. Self-worship is the same as idol worship. When you put yourself on the throne of your life and orbit the world around your desires, your ambitions, your expectations, your feelings, your rights, your desires, your… you live in a world that is severely out of balance.

  Think about the planets that orbit around the sun. The physics involved in the mystery of all of this are greater than my simple mind can comprehend. However, when I was a child, we often made planetary mobiles, and everyone knew that in every mobile, the sun had to be in the center for everything else to fall in the right place.

  Ok, you probably know where I’m going with this. God created the Universe complete with the physics of its operation; words like velocity, centrifugal force, gravitational pull and formulas like W = mg = mA = Fc. Could it be that all of that points to a spiritual reality? Could it be that when the Son is the center of our thoughts, our passions and therefore our lives, all the other elements of our lives fall into their proper places? I believe it could. I also believe that when you don’t have the Son in the center (and everyone knows the Son needs to be in the center), you are all out of whack and the only way you know it is through the never-ending struggles that characterize your days. If you are reading this and realizing that you have had someone or something other than God in the center of your life, today is a good day to let God rule from His rightful position.

  Pride and selfishness will stop your prayers from being answered.

6. Disobedience.

  Here’s the deal, even though God accepts you as you are, when you come into a relationship with Him, He loves you too much to leave you that way. From the initial “coming to know Jesus personally” to the day that He calls you “home” God is working in your life to draw you into a better understanding of how He intended for life to be. He is preparing you for eternity with Him!

  Too many people repeat a prayer to get into heaven then walk out of the baptismal waters with their “get out of hell free” card and go right back to living as if God never existed. They go their merry way, doing their merry deeds until something messes with their merry. Then, they cry out to the LORD and wonder why He doesn’t answer when they call.

  Isaiah, the strange prophet of old described this reckless abandon of God in his book.

“Listen! The LORD is not too weak to save you, and he is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call. But there is a problem -- your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:1-2 (NLT)

   God will not hear your prayers if you don’t obey His commands. You prove your love for God by obeying God. Obedience tells God that you trust Him. Disobedience tells God that you’d rather trust yourself, or someone else, or that you don’t really care to be ruled over by Him.

   “Are we living as we say we are, as we are supposed to be? We will not be perfect; forgiven, yes, but we still have the responsibility to have character and integrity as His children and representatives. Therefore, the sins we commit toward others need to be addressed before God. We live the Christian life through forgiveness and grace, but it also includes character and responsibility. We are not righteous, but we are called to live and treat others as His children, to the best of our efforts. We are not to be good or slightly better than the others we know. We are to set our hearts and minds on Him and live our lives in response to His promises and work and with gratitude for what he has done for us. The key is to realize that He is indeed trustworthy. We can demonstrate real, authentic faith by being obedient; we can do this when we are faithful and trusting in Christ. To honor God, we have to live for Him within His precepts and model His Fruit and love. If this is not happening, then we are not being acceptable to Him, rather pretenders in the faith. Why, then, would God answer us (John 9:31; 15:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 11:6; 1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 3:22-23)?”

  Read this entire article at Discipleship Tools

  Here is another quote regarding the importance of obedience if you want your prayers to be answered.

  “If our mouths say that we believe, but our actions don't back up that belief with a strong display of obedience. Obedience should be a natural outgrowth of faith in God. He that obeys God, trusts Him; he that trusts Him, obeys Him. 1 Samuel 15:22 says "It is better to obey (listen to God) than to sacrifice". Ongoing disobedience is the fruit of an unsurrendered will…”  See more at Hindrances to Prayer

  The best way to demonstrate your confidence in God is to trust Him. And the best way to trust God is to obey Him. There was a hymn that was popular at my church when I was a young girl. It went like this,

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and Obey

  These are six common reasons you experience failure when you pray. Prayer is the most powerful thing we can do, for prayer unleashes heaven’s power on earth. When we pray, we serve as connectors, conduits for God’s power to flow through us to the world around us. All too often we grow frustrated with prayer because we don’t experience anything flowing anywhere. Most of us aren’t willing to do the hard work of removing the obstacles that keep our prayers from being answered.

  The goal of praying is to experience prayers answered. The work of prayer is removing the obstacles that stand between our prayers and God’s glory. If you will trust God to fill you with His power and His presence, He will remove these obstacles. God will draw you to a place where you will experience His power flowing in and through your life.

  I could use some answers to some prayers, couldn’t you?


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