While there are dozens of Biblical reasons for your prayers hitting the ceiling and apparently going no where, there are a few at the top of the list.
Do you have standing with God?
This is a legal term. If you take a case to court, the judges will first determine if you have the right to bring a suit. They call this “standing,” meaning that you have a right to state your cause in court based upon your stake in the outcome.
Here is an example. Years ago I told my husband that I didn’t want third child. We had two girls and my first child was such a handful I did not see how I could possibly take on another. My husband, without telling me, prayed for a son and a year later here comes a baby boy.
My husband had standing before God to ask for a son. First, we were legally married. Second, the husband is the head of the home and can ask for anything that will enhance the home and our combined lives. Because God regards us as one flesh, the husbands’ prayers for his wife are actually stronger than anyone else’s.
I could pay you have a son, and there would be no harm in that, but I have no standing before God because we are not related in any way. However, if you ask me to pray that you have a son, that gives me standing before God to interceded for you. Better still, if you are a woman you ask God yourself. But you could only make that request if you are legally married because God honors those laws of man which do not conflict with His laws.
No “standing” for something antithetical to God’s word
I am not permitted to pray that you have an abortion, because the murder of babies, either inside or outside of the womb is strictly forbidden for every human being regardless of background, religion, or national identify. God promised to destroy the entire nation of the Canaanites, the worshipers of Molech the abortion god, 3,500 years ago and He still means business today. God has a long memory.
Doctors have greater standing to pray for patients. Some believers will only seek out medical personnel who pray for their patients. A legally elected leader of a nation who prays for his people publicly or privately has great benefit. Collections of the prayers of American presidents can be found in books. But other elected leaders also have standing to pray for their citizens. God has honored elected officials calls for days of fasting and prayers for the nation when we were under great threat of harm.
Whose prayers are heard?
Psalm 102:17 God will turn to the prayer of the impoverished; he won’t despise their prayers. Economic stress is one of the chief ways God gets your attention. It is good to know He is listening.
God asks us to pray about evil activity. Psalm 141:5 Instead, let the righteous discipline me; let the faithful correct me! Let my head never reject that kind of fine oil, because my prayers are always against the deeds of the wicked.
Notice that we are not to pray for the destruction of the person; God will handle that in due time. We ask that the deeds of the wicked be judged. Next time you see a pedophile being sentenced to prison you can say the deeds have been judged. Jesus warned his disciples about praying down judgment on individuals. The deeds, not the individuals, are to be judged.
Luke 9: 51 As the time approached when Jesus was to be taken up into heaven, he determined to go to Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers on ahead of him. Along the way, they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival, 53 but the Samaritan villagers refused to welcome him because he was determined to go to Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to consume them?” 55 But Jesus turned and spoke sternly to them, 56 and they went on to another village. Calling down fire refers to judgment prayers.
Whose prayers are ignored?
The wicked have no standing. Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.
Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. This scripture points out that no donation to the church or other work of God can compensate for your sin. Repentance and forgiveness alone wipes the slate clean.
The Lord’s prayer brings this principle out. You ask for forgiveness first before asking for any blessing either on yourself or others. In Matthew 6 we find the prayer:
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [f]evil. [g][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
Then Jesus adds this postscript, emphasizing that forgiveness puts us in right standing before God and verifies our prayers.
Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. This scripture emphasizes that you must already know of a sin that you have committed or are now committing. David prayed, “Cleanse me of secret faults.”
We really do not know the truth about ourselves. But God is gracious and lets us know little by little. You will find that the most mature Christians are those who have a good sense of their own lack, while at the same time having the greatest faith in what God can do. And that is the final secret for prayers – faith in what God can do.