I’ve been thinking about this for weeks since my son, Christian, said he didn’t believe in God because Christian had said prayers that God hadn’t answered. At the time, my only comment was, “God only answers those prayers which He feels directly benefit us and help us grow.” I’ve done some more reading, some more thinking, and have come up with an expanded answer that might make more sense.
Sometimes, no answer may simply be nothing more than a delayed answer. In God’s timeline, our human “day” does not necessarily represent His day. Other times, God does not answer because He has something better in mind for us and is waiting for the right opportunity to bestow it upon us. Furthermore, depending upon our prayer, we simply sabotage ourselves by lacing our prayer with attitudes and actions that to us seem logical, and yet to God are reflections of traits that He looks upon as sinful – sin (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 14:10–12), disobedience (Poverbsr 28:9), hypocrisy and insincerity (Isaiah 29:13; Malachi 1:7–9), wrong motives (Matthew 6:5–6; Luke 18:11–14; James 4:3), lack of faith (Hebrews 11:6; James 1:6) and even marital problems (1 Peter 3:7).
Ultimately, we are all capable of choosing right versus wrong. God permits us to make sinful choices and reap the consequences of those choices either to help us grow spiritually or to beget an outcome more beneficial to us as an individual or for the good of the many. Most importantly, it is up to each of us to weigh our thoughts and motivations to discern whether or not we’re going to God in prayer with the right heart and for the right reason (James 5:17 – “The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.”).