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Flash!  God Doesn’t Always Answer Prayers; In Fact,

Sometimes He Doesn’t Even Listen to Them!


Dr. Brian Campbell


Excerpts from:  Godly Counsel, Copyright, 2010


If you plan to use prayer in your Christian counseling, it is important to gain knowledge about the discipline of prayer.  Although I do not claim to be an expert on prayer, I have written a chapter in "Godly Counsel" that covers the basics of the topic.  Please take time to review the chapter; it is available on my internet website.  Below, you will find a discussion of impediments to prayer--that is, what types of  factors hinder the effectiveness of prayer.  This information is taken directly from my book.


Although prayer can take place under many different circum­stances and take many different forms, not all prayers are equally acceptable in God’s sight.  There are many different hindrances to prayer mentioned in the Bible.  All of the factors cited below may seriously impede God’s answers to our prayers:


·         Sin God does not easily listen to the prayers of sinners; those who are unrepentant and who willfully cherish sin in their hearts.62-64

If I had cherished sin in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened.  

(Psalm 66:18)62

We know that God does not listen to sinners. 

(John 9:31)63


But your iniquities have separated you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.  
(Isaiah 59:2)64



  • Ignoring God’s Laws:  If you turn a “deaf ear” to God’s laws, as contained in the Bible, your prayers are detestable to Him.65


  • Wickedness:  God distances Himself from the prayers of evil or wicked people.66


  • Wrong Motives:  God cannot be fooled.  If you pray with the wrong motives (for example, asking for money for others, when you really want the money for yourself), you will not receive an answer to your prayer.67


  • Doubt and Lack of Faith:  If you doubt God’s existence or question His power to answer prayers, do not expect to receive anything from the Lord when you pray.68,69



If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,

even his prayers are detestable.  
(Proverbs 28:9)65


The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the

prayer of the righteous.
(Proverbs 15:29)66



When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask

with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on

your own pleasures.
(James 4:3)67

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because

he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed

by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive

anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man,

unstable in all he does.
(James 1:6-7)68


And without faith it is impossible to please God, because

anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and

that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 
(Hebrews 11:6)69





  • Selfishness If you are selfish and ignore those who are poor or needy, do not expect to receive blessings when you, yourself, cry out for help.70
  • Arrogance/Pride God distances Himself from people who are arrogant; He hates and opposes those who are pride­ful.71-73


  • Unforgiveness:  When you stand before God praying, if you hold anything against anyone, you must forgive and “let go” of everything; otherwise, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins when you confess them.74,75


  • Disharmony in the Home:  If you mistreat your spouse, your prayers may be hindered.76


  • Hypocrisy:  Jesus spoke out against the religious legalists of His time who prayed lengthy and showy prayers in pub­lic, while behind the scenes they took advantage of the de­fenseless.77-79



If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,

he too will cry out and not be answered.
(Proverbs 21:13)70


Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites,

even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles

with them.  When they go with their flocks and herds

to seek the Lord, they will not find him;

he has withdrawn himself from them.

(Hosea 5:5-6)71


The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
(Proverbs 16:5)72


God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

(James 4:6)73


And when you stand praying, if you hold anything

against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father

in heaven may forgive you your sins.
(Mark 11:25)74


For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly

Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men

their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15)75


Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live

with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker

partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life,

so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
(1 Peter 3:7)76





And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,

for they love to pray standing in the synagogues

and on the street corners to be seen by men.
(Matthew 6:5)77


And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans,

for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
(Matthew 6:7)78


They devour widows’ houses and for a show make

lengthy prayers.  Such men will be punished most severely.
(Mark 12:40)79