Thursday, February 5, 2015

Why Prayers Don’t Get Answered

In this lesson we explore what are the things that will keep our prayers from being answered.

 Series: Seeking God
This is the 7th and final lesson in the series: “Seeking God

In last lesson we covered:  “What is Prayer?”, and said that it is:

  • talking to God
  • listening to God
  • an offensive weapon of spiritual warfare
  • a way to thank God
  • a means to ensure God’s will is done in our lives
  • is a means of getting closer to God
  • a time for introspection and evaluating ourselves
  • a means of allowing the Holy Spirit to make requests on our behalf

In This Lesson We Cover

  • What things will cause your prayers to go unanswered?

Lack of Faith

James 1:5-7

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 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. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

  • What here keeps your prayers from being answered?

James 5:14-15
14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
  • What’s needed to make a sick person well?
Mark 6: 1-6
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
  • What does this tell us about Jesus’ childhood?
    • contradicts the accounts of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  • Does anyone have family members who find it hard to believe how they’ve changed?
  • Why couldn’t Jesus heal them?  - they had a lack of faith
  • faith seems to be needed for healing

Mark 11: 22-26
22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
  • What does Jesus say will happen if you believe that you have received it?
  • What will prevent God from forgiving you?


Luke 6:37
37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven
  • What is required for you to be forgiven?
Matt 5:23-24
23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
  • So it’s not just forgiving, but also resolving or addressing conflict.
Matthew 18:21-35
21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”
22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.
23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
  • You need to forgive in order to be forgiven.
  • What about forgiving yourself?

Matthew 6: 9-14
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
   but deliver us from the evil one.[b]
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
  • What happens if you don’t forgive others of their sins?

Unforgiven Sin

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
  • What’s different from us and David in terms of forgiveness from sin?
    • David had to offer sacrifices
    • Jesus was our sacrifice
    • we must confess
  • Unforgiveness is actually the same as unforgiven sin because it causes God not to forgive our sins
1 John 1:8-10
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
  • Do you know anyone who claims to be without sin?
  • What do we need to do for God to forgive our sins?
Psalms 66: 16-19
Come and hear, all you who fear God;
   let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
   his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
   the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
   and has heard my prayer.
  • What would happen if David cherished sin?
  • If you cherish it you don’t repent
  • Are you proud of what you should be ashamed of?
    • rappers bragging about murder, selling drugs, sex with many women

Wrong Motives

James 4:3
"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures"
  • not praying for God’s will
Matthew 6:10
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:32-34
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • wrong priorities
  • seeking God’s will

Not God’s Will

  • your prayers don’t align with God’s plan
    • character building trials
    • things you can’t see
    • not in His timing
    • it will distract you from His will

An Improper Relationship Between a Husband and a Wife

1 Peter 3:1-7
3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
  • What will hinder your prayers here?
    • is it just the husband?

Not Treating Others Fairly / Not Loving Others

Matthew 7:7-12
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
  • Is the ‘do unto others’ part tied to the “everyone who asks receives” part?

Not Fasting

Mark 9:17-29
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.[a]
  • Why couldn’t the disciples cast out the evil spirit?
  • What other types of situation require fasting?
Matthew 6:16-18
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Today’s weapon/tool:  Fasting

  • the motive is important
  • keeping the commitment is important
  • the details of the ritual are less important as long as it's denying your flesh
  • Is fasting because my pastor said to fast a good motive?

The Fellowship Fast

The fellowship fast is primarily for individual who live alone and encourages them to interact with other believers.  The rules of the fast were basically that you cannot eat solid food between 6pm and 6am unless you are eating with another believer.  So you basically skip dinner, or have a liquid dinner.  When I did it, my dinners were primarily shake/smoothies of fruit, yogurt, and some type of flavoring and sometimes peanut butter.  

My reason for fasting was to heighten my sensitivity to hearing God's voice while preparing this first series of studies.

You Have Already Been Given an Answer or the Means to Do It Yourself

  • flood example


What blocks our prayers from being answered?

  • Lack of faith
  • Unforgiveness
  • Unforgiven sin
  • You have the wrong motives
  • Not God’s will for our lives
  • Improper relationship between husband and wife
  • Not Treating Others Fairly
  • Not Fasting
  • You already know the answer

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