How many Christians have prayed for someone just to find out that their prayers went unanswered? How many people have prayed and then "given up" because they have grown disheartened due to a lack of faith or have concluded that whatever they have been praying for is not God's will? However, how we deal with unanswered prayer is important not only for our own benefit, but also for the benefit of others. When we pray, we engage in the most valuable and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we must account in all our concerns. We were certainly purchased at a high price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and thus we belong to God.
Our right to pray comes from God, and it is as much ours now as it was when it was granted to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). However, there are instances when we pray or talk to the One in Heaven and He does not seem to respond. There could be various reasons for this, and the Scriptures explain why and how our prayers are answered by the One who is sensitive and loving, who Himself enjoys our communion with God the Father, because He is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).
Unconfessed sin is a major reason why prayers go unanswered. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, right down to our most private thoughts (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not living in the Way, harbor hostility toward our brother, or ask for things for the wrong reasons (such as selfish wants), we can anticipate God to not answer our petition since He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). All of the potential advantages that we may get from God's vast "bottle" of kindness are "stopped" by sin! Indeed, there are instances when our petitions are terrible in the eyes of the Lord, most especially when we manifestly do not belong to the Lord, either through unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or through hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).
Another reason why prayer appears to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing stronger reliance and confidence in Him from our faith, which should bring out a deeper sense of thanks, love, and humility in us. As a result, we benefit spiritually, for He provides favor to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for the poor Canaanite woman who begged our Lord for mercy while He was in the territory of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was not the type of person a Jewish rabbi would be interested in. She was not a Jew, and she was a woman, both of which made Jews dismiss her. The Lord does not appear to respond to her requests, although He is fully aware of her circumstances. He may not have responded instantly to her stated demands, but He listened and granted her request.
God hears our destitute calls for compassion, and His silence inspires us to persevere in prayer. He enjoys it when we try to reason with Him. Let us thirst for things that are close to God's heart, and let us follow in His ways rather than our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, we are living in God's will, which can never be incorrect (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).