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What Does the Bible Say About...Unanswered Prayer?

This question was sent in response to my answer to a question by the same writer asking Where did God come from?

I believe in GOD. I understand that god made all things. But i don't understand how god could not of been something before he was GOD. If god did not have a beginning, then is there really a god? For I pray and he never seems to hear me! Sometimes I think god doesn't like me. Thank You.


As I said before, it is hard to comprehend that God has always existed. There are some things that we just have to take on faith. We know electricity exists, though we can't see it, and any physicist will admit they don't even know what it really is. So it is with some things about God. We believe because he told us in the Bible, or simply because the things we see around us call for a creator.

But your latest letter seems to say that you want to believe in God, even think you believe in him, but have your doubts because of unanswered prayer. That is a different matter entirely.

First let me address the question of whether or not God likes you. First John 4:8 says God is love. This is not a wishy-washy now-I-like-you-now-I-don't love. God, by his own nature wants the best for everyone. That is the meaning of the word love as it used here. God loves everyone so much that he is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) That scripture talks about spiritual life, but God's love applies equally in all respects. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't give the same love back to God.

Now, about prayer there are a few scriptures we need to understand. When we don't get the answer we want when we pray, there are several possible reasons. One is that we didn't believe we would get what we asked for. (1Timothy 2:8) If we don't think we will get what we ask for, the prayer is not because of faith in God. If we doubt God will give us what we ask for we are essentially asking God not to give it; and he obliges us.

Another is that we asked for the wrong reasons. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:3) God wants to answer our prayers, but sometimes the answer is held back because we wouldn't use it to his glory but our own.

A third reason is that God knows that what we asked for is not what is best for us. Paul was made to understand this the hard way. (2Co 12:7-9) God essentially told Paul that he would not take away whatever his "thorn in the flesh" was because it was better for Paul in the long run if he had to suffer through it. As parents sometimes have to tell their kids they can't have everything they want, so also God sometimes has to say "no."

A fourth reason may be that we expect something we have no right to receive because we are not in the right relationship with the one we are asking. If I ask my father for something, he will do his best to give it to me because I am his son. If I were to ask the mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico for the same thing, he would be under no obligation to give it to me because I am not his son. So it is with God. There are some things he gives to everybody. "For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Mt 5:45) There are some things, though, that he only gives to his children. (Eph 1:5-8) If God only gives redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and prudence to his children by adoption through Jesus Christ then some of the lesser good things may also be reserved for his adopted children.

If God basically answers prayer only for his children, then we need to become his child. How do we do that? He has shown us the way in his scriptures. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been immersed (baptized) into Christ have put on Christ." (Ga 3:26-27) Also look at the following scriptures.

Believe in Jesus Christ

  • Mark16:16
  • John 8:24
  • Romans 5:1-2

Repent of sins

  • Acts 2:38
  • Acts 17:30

Confess faith in Christ

  • Matthew 10:32
  • Romans 10:10

Be Baptized

  • Mark 16:16
  • Acts 2:38
  • Acts 8:38-39
  • Acts 22:16
  • Romans 6:3-4
  • Colossians 2:12
  • 1 Peter 3:21

If you want your prayers answered, and it is obvious you do, there are certain things you have to do, if you haven't done them already. First is to become God's child through obedience to his word. Then pray with no doubt and with the proper attitude. After all that, if what you ask of God is best for you, God will provide it. If he doesn't, then accept on faith that it wasn't what was best for you in the long run.