All of us have experienced the feeling that our prayers are not being heard. We tend to wonder if are doing it wrong, or worse, whether or not pray is of any effect. The Bible gives some guidance as to why we experience this phenomenon.
1) Our prayers can be blocked by sin.
Lam 3:44 – The collective sins of the nation of Judah had piled up until God judged the nation allowing it to be destroyed by Babylon. At that point, God covered the nation with a cloud so that prayers could not get through.
Ps 66:18 – The sin we hold on to will cause God not to listen.
2) Our prayers can be blocked by idolatry.
Jer 11:11 -14 – Jeremiah had been prophesying the destruction of the nation because of their sin. His messages went unheeded. God anticipated that people would cry out but He told them that He would not listen. He chided the nation saying that the other “gods” they had been worshipping would not listen either. The judgement was already determined and God told Jeremiah not to intercede for them.
3) Our prayers can be blocked by our evil desires.
Jam 4:3 – We may pray and not receive a satisfactory response because of our motives. Two such evil motives are described in the teaching of Jesus. In Matt 6:5-6, Jesus describes people who only want to make a show of their religion. In a parable in Luke 18:11-14, Jesus tells of a Pharisee who thinks highly of himself.
4) Our prayers can be blocked by doubt.
Jam 1:6-8 – When a prayer is riddled with doubt, the person should not expect his prayer to be answered.
5) Our prayers can be blocked when men mistreat their wives.
I Pet 3:7 – Men must treat their wives in an understanding manner. A breach in a personal relationship will also cause a man to not be able to present an offering to God.
6) Our prayers may be blocked by spiritual forces.
Dan 10:12-13 – Technically, demonic forces cannot block a prayer, but our answer may be delayed by their interference. This delay is also under the ultimate control of God.
7) Our prayers may actually not be blocked after all.
2 Cor 12:9 – Sometimes we may think that our prayers are not being heard when they really are. Paul asked God to remove the “thorn in the flesh” that plagued him. God’s response was, “my grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, “No.” The problem may be that we do not recognize the answer. We need to remember that “no” is an answer.