What to Do When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered

Most of us have the idea that if God wills something to happen, it just happens instantly—that there is no such thing as time or distance or resistance to what God wills. But is that what the Bible reveals?

God’s Word is His will. So when we ask anything according to a promise in His Word, we can rest assured He has heard us and that we have what we’ve asked for. But there are some qualifications for asking and receiving. As James 4:3 says,

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

The Lord loves us so much that He won’t give us things that are bad for us. And Mark 11:24 says,

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

We have to believe we receive what we ask for when we pray, and then we shall have it. This means we must have faith when we pray—not when we see results—in order to receive.

Maybe you’re thinking, I believe what God’s Word says, but I also can’t deny what I see and feel. How can these things be reconciled? There is a simple way to reconcile what God’s Word says with what we see and feel. And for me, the key is found in the book of Daniel.

Daniel was a powerful man of God who served the Lord while the Jews were in captivity to the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians. Through prayer, he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2) and the handwriting on the wall (Dan. 5), and he was delivered from the lion’s den (Dan. 6). Daniel was no novice, yet he didn’t get the same results every time he prayed and asked things of the Lord.

In Daniel 9, for instance, Daniel had only prayed for a few minutes—and was still in the middle of his prayer — when the angel Gabriel came with God’s answer.

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Daniel 9:21–23

That’s awesome! I’m sure we’d all love it if God interrupted all our prayers to give us the answer.

But in Daniel 10:1–11, we see Daniel praying another prayer with very different results. In this instance, Daniel prayed and fasted, and it took three weeks to receive an answer. Why did it take only a few minutes in Daniel 9 but three weeks in Daniel 10?

The answer is that there is a lot happening in the unseen spiritual realm that we can’t perceive with our physical senses.

It didn’t take the Lord three minutes to answer Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 and three weeks to answer his prayer in Daniel 10. The Lord answered both prayers instantly.

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. Daniel 10:12

These scriptures in Daniel 9 and 10 reveal that the Lord answered both of Daniel’s prayers from the beginning, although the period of time it took for Daniel to receive the answers varied greatly.

Even Jesus experienced this. Jesus healed ten lepers in Luke 17:12–19, but healing didn’t manifest instantly. It happened as they went to show themselves to the priest for their cleansing. Mark 11:24 says that we must believe we receive when we pray, and then we shall have it. That implies time. I don’t think it has to take a long time, but it often does take some time.

Scripture reveals that the Lord wasn’t the variable in either of the answers to Daniel’s prayers. He was the same (Heb. 13:8). But there was a demonic power that opposed the messenger bringing Daniel his answer. Look at what Daniel 10:13 says:

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

This “prince of the kingdom of Persia” is describing a demonic power that operates in the unseen spiritual realm.

Ephesians 6:12 says,

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Satan can hinder the manifestation of our answered prayers like he did with Daniel. If we don’t understand that and continue with the false idea that once the Lord commands an answer, it just happens instantly, then our faith will falter when we don’t see immediate results.

What if Daniel had given up on the twentieth day? What if he thought, I got an answer in three minutes last time. This time it’s nearly three weeks. God must not have answered my prayer. If Daniel had done that, I believe he wouldn’t have seen God’s answer—even though it was already on the way.

Once again, Jesus said in Matthew 21:21 that we have to believe and doubt not. Paul also said something similar in Galatians 6:9:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The “if we faint not” is crucial to this promise. If Daniel had wavered in his faith, he would not have received anything of the Lord (James 1:6–7), but that wouldn’t have been because the Lord didn’t move. It would have been because Daniel gave up on his prayer. Sadly, that’s what happens to us many times. We need to remember that the Lord is always faithful to His Word and commands the answer to our prayers, but they can be hindered and take time to manifest. The answer is on the way; but if it’s hindered, we need to remember the Lord’s faithfulness and be patient for the manifestation.

I’m out of space here, but I have a new 44-page booklet that I think would be a great blessing to you if you’d like to learn more about this topic. You can order it by going to awme.net/pray or calling our UK Helpline at +44 (0) 1922 473300.

We love you,
Andrew and Jamie

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