Psalm 102 (NIV)
1 Hear my prayer, Lord;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
Do you ever feel like when you pray, God is not answering you? Does it sometimes feel like God is not even listening to you?
One thing we need to understand is that God’s hearing is never impaired. The bible makes this very clear in Psalm 94.
Psalm 94:9 (NIV)
9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Part of the problem is that the sections of the bible that use poetry can sometimes picture God as though He was deaf. A good example of this is found in Deuteronomy 1.
Deuteronomy 1:45 (NIV)
45 You came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you.
In this passage, it is simply a figurative way to say that God does not always respond to requests as people might want Him to. Sometimes the answers come only after long delays. Other times the answers may come in a unrecagnized form or in a manner that the person praying would not have wanted. We only see a very small part of the big overall picture.
Effective prayer requires that the one praying have the right attitudes: reverence, humility, proper motivation, and purity. Ineffectual prayer, that which God seems to ignore, often results from the lack of such qualities. Here are a few examples of some of these undesirable qualities:
God may ignore those who are irreverent. Irreverence is when you do not respect something or someone. If you do not come to God with the respect He deserves, you will probably get ignored.
Psalm 50:21 (NIV)
21 When you did these things and I kept silent,
you thought I was exactly like you.
But I now arraign you
and set my accusations before you.
God wants to help those who are humble in spirit, not those who are proud.
James 4:6 (NIV)
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
When people pray for selfish reasons, God may refuse their requests.
James 4:3 (NIV)
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Disobeying God can separate someone from God and cause prayers to go unanswered.
Isaiah 59:1-2 (NIV)
59 Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
Spiritual instability can undermine your prayers.
James 1:6-7 (NIV)
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.
A husband’s prayers may be hindered if he has treated his wife disrespectfully.
1 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
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.
The next time it feels like God is not listening or is not answering your prayers, maybe you should look inside yourself and check the motives of your prayer. If granting your prayer does not honor God, He isn’t going to waste His time granting your request. If it is not in our best interest, God won’t do it. We can all be thankful for that.