Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?1
by Hart Kayser
My niece called me in January and told me that a speech/language clinician had just resigned and the Houston Independent School District needed a replacement ASAP. The description of the job sounded wonderful. I was given an interview the following week and the employment process began. It took two weeks to complete the process and the only thing I needed to do was present my passport and attend a day-long orientation. During this whole time, I was praying, asking the Lord “is this right?” I jumped at this opportunity without praying and asking the Lord if this was His plan for me. Was this God’s will for me? Or was this my will for me?
My last weekend in Houston I attended a church service that gave a teaching about prayer. The teacher used a DVD by Bill Hybels from Willow Creek Church in Chicago. After listening and examining my heart I realized that there were areas in my life where I was not hearing God’s voice and thus was unable to discern His will for me.
Hybels covered 6 areas that I needed to examine in myself. These included Prayerlessness, Unconfessed Sin, Unresolved Relational Conflict, Selfishness, Inadequate Faith, Prayer
Prayerlessness (not regular):
James 5:13-16 (NIV) (The prayer of Faith) 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them 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 them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I have always believed that God heard my prayers. But what if He wasn’t listening to me? I talked to him, I listened for His voice in scripture, in the words of others around me and during sermons. But when the prayer was about my concern, like a move to Houston, I didn’t hear from Him, there was silence.
Unconfessed Sin (Forgiveness):
Isiah 59:1-2 (NIV) (Sin, Confession and Redemption) 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.
1 John 1:9 (NIV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
This was my hope! I made a mental list concerning sin in my life and asked for forgiveness. I also confessed the big one, discontentment that I had with the life that God gave me in Greenwood. The Lord showed me that my life in this small community was exactly where he wanted me to be for my own good and His pleasure. There were ministries that I needed to embrace and so many opportunities to love on people who are different from me. God is faithful and He forgave me.
Unresolved Relational Conflict:
Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) 23 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Romans 12:1 (NIV) 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
I thought that I had good relationships with my children. Examining myself, I knew that I needed to improve my relationship with my 3 children and visit them more often. That means travel to Illinois and New Mexico. I want to know them better as adults and for them to know me. I’ll do all that I can to mend and restore these relationships so they’ll know me again and I’ll share Jesus every time I visit them.
Selfishness (A heart for the poor and the marginalized):
Proverbs 21:13 (NIV) 13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
Isaiah 58:6-14 (NIV) 6 “is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: To loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness (a) will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “if you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words. 14 then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
My family and church experiences as a child left me with a heart that empathized with the poor, orphans, children, the disenfranchised, the widow, and the homeless. This was an important part of my career with students and what I taught in classes and how I provided therapy to young children. I know that God has used those early childhood and work experiences to help those in need. I know that God was glorified.
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 6 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.
God has been so good to me throughout my life that I can’t imagine life without Him. He is a good Father. I knew He would answer my prayer, it was a matter of my heart. When I feel sad or anxious I take time to recall all of the miracles, healings, answered prayers, and blessings that God has given me. Recalling my story is just a way to remember God’s faithfulness and goodness. He is always faithful.
John 14:14 (NIV) 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Psalm 37:4 (NIV) 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 50:15 (NIV) 15 “and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Matthew 6:6 (NIV) 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen, then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
My extended family in Houston was disappointed when I told them that I wanted to return to Greenwood. They understood when I told them that God wanted me there.
I was finally at peace. I knew that Greenwood, MS would be my home. God answered my prayer.