Yes, according to our dear Lord … some prayers can never be answered without certain prerequisites being met!
These prayers might be called, appropriately so, “conditional” prayers.
Let me give you a few examples. They should aid us in becoming better prayer warriors for Jesus, better intercessors for others!
Let’s say a person, a Believer in Christ, has sinned. And realizes that he needs forgiveness to continue praying effectively. (“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18) So, in accordance to 1st John 1:9 (“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive ….”) I pray for said forgiveness. But, I do not sense that true cleansing has occurred!
But I sincerely prayed.
Surely such is promised me.
Yes, but conditionally so.
Let me show you now something else Jesus said, about prayer. About certain aspects of God’s answering prayer.
“If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15, amazing!
In other words, my receiving “forgiveness,” as a Believer anyway, is based on my willingness to forgive others of the wrongs they’ve committed against me!
If I am bitter toward another person, not forgiving him or her … there are consequences!
This is the reason for many an unanswered prayer, too!
It’s the same with prayers for bearing “fruit” or “more fruit” or even “much fruit” for the Kingdom of God! (These terms are quoted from John 15) Yes, God wants to bless us with success for our labors. BUT JESUS ALSO SAID … “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” John 15:4, where fruit bearing is conditional on living in harmony, abiding in Christ!
If I’m not living for Jesus (communing with Him constantly, interacting with Him and loving Him deeply) I will not be blessed with such fruit!
Then again, another reason for unanswered prayer. Some prayers are not only based on God’s Will being done, but also require the cooperation of others.
“Lord, save my lost friend!” God is willing, for sure! (“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”) But, is my friend willing? God will not override that person’s volition!
My Bible example here is Simon Peter. Jesus warned him in advance that he would curse and deny the Lord! And Jesus told Peter He was praying for him! Yet Peter still sinned! Was Jesus’ prayer unanswered? I don’t know! But Peter’s carnal (proud) desires certainly were fulfilled! “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Luke 22:31-32
Yet … “Peter followed (Jesus) afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. AND HE DENIED HIM, saying, Woman, I KNOW HIM NOT. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I AM NOT. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I KNOW NOT WHAT THOU SAYEST. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.” Luke 22:54-60, only twenty-two verses after Jesus’ prayer!
Yes, the answers to some of our prayers depends on the various responses of those for whom we are praying. God honors their freedom to choose!
Then quickly, there’s a third reason in God’s program for unanswered prayer. (Three of who knows how many!) The overall scheme of Bible Prophecy! It’s grand trajectory!
I am praying now that America will continue to “stand” with Israel. Yet it seems our nation is drifting further and further away from supporting our greatest ally on earth! I realize U. S. Presidential Administrations play a part in this. But what if we are nearing the time of the Rapture, the Tribulation? The time when ultimately all nations will forsake that little Israelite Nation? When eventually God will do what He says in Zechariah 14:2. “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken ….” No matter how hard I pray for specifics … God will NOT upset His general Prophetic Plan to accommodate some aberration I might ask. His Will must be done.
I’m just trying to illustrate some circumstances that help explain why prayers may not be answered. Not to keep you from praying … but to help you realize the vast importance of asking everything according to the all-wise Will of a loving Heavenly Father!
Someone said, “Prayer is not twisting God’s Arm! Prayer is rather shaping my heart to accept and delight in God’s Will, whatever that might be!”
— Dr. Mike Bagwell