The third reason we may not see our prayers answered is probably the least popular, but might actually be the most common. I think the reason it has been given such a bad rap is because of the abuse and wrong doctrine that some have preached concerning this one requirement for answered prayer.
Let me drop a few hints about what it is—straight from the mouth of Jesus:
“Will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
“I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”
Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”
“Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”
And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
I’m sure you figured out the third reason we sometimes don’t see prayers answered.
A lack of faith.
Now let me state from the outset that I have known people who have taken this faith issue to an unbiblical extreme, where they believe they must “pretend” they have faith and are afraid to “say” anything to the contrary. They believe expressing any kind of doubt is a lack of faith. The truth is, expressing your doubts is honesty; not admitting your doubts is not being genuine.
We are to worship God in Spirit and in truth. There is no place for pretense. God knows the truth. He’s only asking that we, like the man with the epileptic son say,
I believe! Help me with my unbelief.
What many people don’t understand about faith is that we can’t conjure it up. We can’t convince ourselves to have faith. We can’t drum up a measure of faith. We can’t speak faith-filled words and hope they will wipe out the doubts we truly harbor. The truth is…we really can’t have faith. We’re too weak and wicked. But God! God can. God will. God delights in pouring out faith into our open, honest, and humble hearts.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2
We have not faith only because we ask not for it. We either don’t see faith’s value in the Christian life or we don’t know that we only need to fall on our faces before God and confess in truth that we have so little faith and want more.
Think on this:
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
If it’s impossible to please God without faith, then it would seem that having more and more faith would be of great value. For we see how amazed and pleased Jesus was when He ran across someone with great faith. Think of all the things we do to walk closer with God, and yet He is pleased if we have only a little faith.
If, when you pray, you don’t believe God will grant your request, you lack faith. If, when you pray, you don’t think God wants to grant your request for whatever reason, you lack faith. If, when you pray, you beg and plead like a beggar outside the castle, hoping for a crumb from an unwilling King, you lack faith.
We are CHILDREN of the King. Members of His household.
Does your child beg and plead for breakfast? No. Your child simply asks in faith, believing that you will provide food for him or her. That’s the kind of faith we should have when we ask of God. We are His children.
Everything belongs to Him. Everything is under His control. Whatever you ask for, believing, it will be granted to you. Don’t fear that it might not be His will. Simply pray, “If it’s your will….” and then ask Him to fill you with the faith to believe that it will be done if it’s His will. Very few things a devoted child of God desires are really and truly against His will.
If we are walking with Him, our hearts are usually sanctified enough to desire those things which are within His will. We’ll discuss this in the next unanswered prayer blog. In the meantime, ask for faith. Ask the Lord to grow you in your faith in His love for you. Your faith in His desire to bless you. Your faith in how much He longs to see you joyful and at peace. Your faith in a God who wants to give good gifts to His children. Ask the Author of your faith to perfect it, as that is what He longs to do.
Read on for more encouragement and inspiration.