"Why doesn't God answer my prayers?" Have you ever been asked that question? Have you ever asked that question? I have a wife who has a great relationship with Father. Whatever she asks for she receives. People have started asking her to prayer for their needs because they recognize that Father responds to her. Why does he seem to answer some and not others? It really comes down to relationship.
A lot of people who ask me this question have no relationship with Jesus. They are using the question to justify their position as a non-believer. Others are so steeped in sin, they may believe in Jesus but they certainly are not following him in obedience. Isaiah answered this question by first stating that Yahweh is more than capable of answering so there should be no doubt:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear. (Isaiah 59:1)
So with that established we consider what the problem is:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear. (v. 2)
Your sins are separating you from Father. The relationship was established through the sacrifice of the cross. From here we were adopted so that we could call Yahweh Father. It was sin that separated us in the first place, our acts of rebellion. Sin can hide Father from us again. Refusing to obey, refusing to live by the words of Jesus is rebellion and Father will close his ears to us. Repent.
Doubting the goodness of Father will also prevent him from answering. Why bother praying in the first place if you doubt he will respond. That's crazy. Doubt kills faith and without faith we cannot please Yahweh:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:6-8)
Selfishness is also another thing that prevents us from receiving in prayer. We have this mistaken notion that Jesus planned a perfect, happy, rich life of abundance for us. But Jesus' treasures are different than our idea of treasure. James states in his characteristic blunt fashion:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:3)
Jesus did tell us that we can ask for anything of Father in his name, in our relationship of oneness with him, and we would receive it. But what we fail to remember is that a Christian life is far from self-centered and our primary focus is on the things of the Kingdom. We fail to keep the things that Jesus taught in the context of all his instruction and his instruction was plainly to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. Ours is a sacrificial life in this place as agents of the Kingdom. When we ask anything for ourselves it will always be in the context of seeking the things of the Kingdom. If Jesus told us not to chase after the things the pagans do, why would we think we can chase after them in prayer? Jesus told us we don't need to worry about the basics because Father has us covered.
My wife possesses a pure heart. She isn't perfect and sometimes her desire for the best for others sometimes gets her in trouble but her motivation is pure. She desires to see Jesus glorified in every person she knows. I have the privilege of praying with her daily and I am telling you her prayers are powerful. They are powerful because they are focused on the Kingdom. She has no problem asking for things that are absent from her life that she needs for the Kingdom work, and she gets what she asks for.
There is also the matter of Father's will. Our relationship is an intimate one which allows us to become aware of his will. So often I have had people ask me to pray with them on certain matters. They have expressed what they wanted but as I began to pray the Spirit showed me that it was not Father's will, that he desired something different for them. In our prayers our priority must be what Father wants and submit ourselves to his will. This is vital as a servant of Jesus Christ.
The Christian life is one of reflection; reflecting on the goodness of Yahweh but also on our own spiritual condition. We submit ourselves to examination all the time, asking the Spirit to reveal our heart to us so we can confess anything that does not belong to Jesus. We are concerned about such matters because we want to walk like Jesus, we desire to live by his righteousness. If we check ourselves, believe Father desires to respond, make sure we are not asking selfishly for our own pleasures, that we are focused on Kingdom matters, understanding the Father's will, we will see all our prayers answered. Sounds more complicated than it is. Simply make Jesus your everything, take him by the hand and take joy in the relationship. Prayers will be wonderfully effective in such a relationship because it is all about relationship.