Unanswered Prayer

Jay Adams wrote A Theology of Christian Counseling, which has become somewhat of a classic among counselors who would adhere to Christianity.  I was struck today by a list Adams provides in regards to why prayer is often unanswered.  Thoughts?  I’d love to hear them.

1.  Hypocritical Prayer – One who prays something with his lips while his heart is “yelling” something else.

2.  Unbelieving Prayer – Do you really believe God will act if you pray?  Again, it’s more than lip service.

3.  Resentful Prayer – Are you reminded of a stressed relationship while praying?  Leave your gift at the altar, go take care of the relationship, then return and offer your gift.

4.  Pharisaical Prayer – Do you pray with the motive of making yourself look good?  feel good?  Are you constantly comparing yourself to others – especially those you think don’t have it together?

5.  Self-Centered Prayer – Do you treat God like a genie?  Are you more concerned about yourself or others?  Are you looking for a lesson to learn?

6.  Unbiblical Prayer – How do you know what God’s will is?  Read John 15:1-5 and then set out to “remain in (Jesus)”.

7.  Self-Addressed Prayer – By what authority do you pray?  If it’s not by the authority of Christ, your prayer is worthless.

Of course, there are times when God’s timing is not our own.  Sometimes He simply tells us to wait.  However, we’ve all experienced unanswered prayers.  And the list above is a great place to start taking inventory.  Something to think about.

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6 Responses to “Unanswered Prayer”

  1. wow ! Guilty of all! I could say it is like going to bible study and paying your bills at the same time! Sometimes a reality check is needed!

  2. I do not think that God refuses to answer prayers because we are on the “bad” list. He knows who we are and – things sometimes just happen (or don’t happen) … I think God answers prayer because He has mercy on us – not because we’ve earned it. People seeking a relationship with God, I think, want to pray with a humble heart, try to not have quarrels with others – but if intentions are examined… well, for me, I fail a lot.. But, in my experience, God accompanies unanswered and answered prayer with peace. That being said, the Bible does warn us about those 7 things above – and also provides forgiveness and opportunity to change – just thoughts – MC

    • Maybe I was a bit vague in the original post. God is definitely a God of grace. However, sometimes there are people in my office that only have a relationship with God when convenient. At the first sign of trouble, they throw their hands up and cry out to God, expecting Him to reach down and save the day. And when He doesn’t, they’re offended. The point I was trying to make (and Adams’ as well I think) wasn’t about God’s graciousness or goodness. It was about man’s faulty motives during a time that our relationship might grow the most. Although the list isn’t exhaustive, I believe it’s a great place to begin an honest evaluation of where we’re at in our spirit. Sorry for the confusion. – m

  3. Good list, nmpreach. I look at grace, and in Jesus as key. We are sinners and we are changed by faith in Jesus. And in that is God’s work of grace, of course. In Jesus. So that we pray and live in and from that. There is no doubt that we can sin against grace. But our sin alone does not move us away from grace. Look at the psalms. They were brutally honest to God, and much of it is not pretty. (of course) But yes, the Spirit works to conform us to Christ’s image in all of this, to be sure.

    • Adams brings up some good thoughts Ted. It’s the arrogance or prideful attitudes that most of the above warn about. Therefore, I really like what you have to say about grace. I love the Psalms and the honesty of David. His honesty and transparency shine through. Perhaps he is called a man after God’s own heart because of a righteous motive.

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