Analyzing Unanswered Prayer
Our prayers are sometimes not answered because we pray in vague generalities. When all our prayers are either vague or universal in their scope, it is difficult to experience the exhilaration that goes with clear and obvious answers to prayer. If we ask God to "bless everyone in the world" or "forgive everyone in town," it would be difficult to see the prayer answered in any concrete way. Not that it is wrong to have a large scope of interest in prayer, but if all prayer is given to such generality, then no prayer will have specific and concrete application.
Our prayers are also hindered if we are at war with God. If we are out of harmony with God or in a state of rebellion toward Him, we can hardly expect Him to turn a benevolent ear toward our prayers. His ear is inclined to those who love Him and seek to obey Him. He turns His ear away from the wicked. Thus our attitude and reverence toward God is vital to the efficiency of our prayers.
We also tend to be impatient. When I pray for patience I tend to ask for it "right now!" It is not uncommon for us to wait years, indeed decades, for our most earnest petitions to be realized. God rarely is in a hurry. On the other hand, our fidelity to God tends to depend on "prompt and courteous" action by God. If God tarries, our impatience yields to frustration.
We also have short memories and easily forget the benefits and gifts we've received from the hand of God. This is the mark of the apostate—he forgets the benefits of God. The saint remembers the gifts of God and doesn't require a fresh one each hour to keep his faith intact.
Though God does heap grace upon grace, we should be able to rejoice in God's benefits if we never receive another benefit from Him. Remember the Lord when you go before Him. He will not give you a stone when you ask Him for bread.
Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God
Reflect on these reasons for unanswered prayer to determine if they are affecting your prayer life: praying in generalities, being at war with God, being impatient, and forgetting the benefits you have received from God.
For Further Study
Isaiah 40:29-31: "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.
Subscribe to Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries
When you subscribe to Tabletalk, you get a tool that helps you grow in your knowledge of God and in your love for His Son and His people. Each month is packed with more than 60 pages of focused, practical Bible study and insightful commentary by today's top Christian thinkers. Learn more about the magazine.