When Your Prayers Don’t Seem to Get Answered

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, novelist and life coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is April 5, 2021, and this is Episode #9 of Series 2021. This episode is titled “When Your Prayers Don’t Seem to Get Answered”

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 The Bible is very logical and the Bible is very balanced. What we often fail to do, however, is to follow what the Bible says to its logical conclusions. We skim over verses as we read them. We make assumptions about the verses we read and fail to grasp what they truly mean.

One such verse is Mark 9: 24: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”

Let’s look at this passage in context in Mark 9:14-24.

Jesus had just come down from a high mountain with Peter, James, and John where they had seen Him transfigured before them and had heard the voice of the Father approving Jesus. We’ll start at verse 14:

“When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.

“What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

‘How long has this been happening?’ Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, ‘Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.’

‘What do you mean, “If I can”?’ Jesus asked. ‘Anything is possible if a person believes.’

The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'”

This passage focuses on the problem of unbelief. The father’s cry sets the theme of the passage: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” The problem of unbelief has to do with the problem of seemingly unanswered prayer. It is a problem we have all faced as Christ-followers, and a problem to which we often offer pious platitudes as reasons for the problem. I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of this and have had to repent.

Notice, I said “seemingly” unanswered prayer, because the truth is that God hears and answers every one of the prayers of His children. How do we know this? The Bible says so in Matthew 7: 7 KJV. Jesus is speaking here and says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Jesus cannot lie. He says what He means and He means what He says. The Bible says this in Numbers 23: 19 NLT: “God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?”

So, if Jesus said we would receive when we ask, then we will receive when we ask. 

Now, I’m sure that some of you reading this blog post or listening to this podcast have prayers that seem unanswered. I do as well. So, what is really going on when our prayers seem to be unanswered?

Let’s look again at Matthew 7: 7 NLT: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

In this verse, Jesus is telling us that if we ask, we shall be given what we ask for; if we seek, we shall find what we are looking for; if we knock, the door will be opened to us.

So why then, since this verse is true, do we seem to have so many unanswered prayers?

Many Christians, when they don’t seem to get an answer to their prayers—and notice here that the word SEEM is the operative word—many Christians when they don’t seem to get an answer to their prayers have to find a reason for which they didn’t get an answer to their prayers.

So, what do we do? We concoct all kinds of reasons for not receiving answers to our prayers. We say things like, “Healing is not for today,” or “God doesn’t want to heal me,” or “I’m not healed because God is teaching me something,” or “I’ll never get out of debt,” or “God has forgotten about me,” or “God is angry with me”—and on and on and on.

But what about Romans 3: 4 NLT that says this: “Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about Him, ‘You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.’”

So, we have to make a quality decision – a quality decision is one from which there is no retreat—we have to make a quality decision that what God says is true no matter what our circumstances look like, no matter what we are feeling, no matter anything contrary to God’s Word. God’s Word is true. PERIOD!

We must start from this truth if we are to receive from God. To start from any other place is to fall into error and to fail to receive the answer to our prayer.

Great men of the Bible understood this. When Job was going through his horrendous trials, he trusted God enough to be able to cry out, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13: 15 NKJV).

The three Hebrew young men–Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego–demonstrated their absolute trust in God when they were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar. Here’s what they said, as recorded in Daniel 3: 17-18 NLT: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”                    

We have to be so secure in our trust of God that even if we do not see the fulfillment of the promise, we will still believe His Word is true. The prophets of old believed the promise that the Messiah would come even though they did not see this promise fulfilled during their lifetimes.

Now, these examples above do not mean that God doesn’t want to fulfill His promises in our lives. He does. But more than anything, He wants us to have a relationship with Him based on perfect trust in Him.

So, the foundational truth for experiencing the answers to our prayers is to establish in our heart that God’s Word is absolutely true and the final authority in our lives, and that our experiences are not. When our experiences differ from God’s Word, we must choose to believe God’s Word, not our experiences.

This is very difficult for us as humans, especially when our senses are screaming physical pain or the creditors are knocking at our door or our wayward child is falling deeper into sin or our marriage seems headed for divorce.

Why is it so difficult for us to trust in God and simply to take Him at His Word? Because we have been programmed—especially here in the West—to believe our five senses more than anything else and to make them the criteria for faith. In fact, the expression “Seeing is believing” perfectly describes this belief in the supremacy of the five senses.

Moreover, we have been taught—ever since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment—that human reason reigns and, indeed, in many cases, that there is nothing outside of or beyond human reason.

This philosophy of exalting the reason above all else evolved into our current exaltation of science as the god of the 21st century. Today science has become a god at whose altar our culture bows. If science says it, we believe it.

Yet, over the centuries, new scientific discoveries have altered previous ones. So, while true science—God’s science—has not changed, our understanding of science has changed and will continue to change. Our trust must not be in science, but in God Who created science.

The exaltation of reason is a phenomenon peculiar to the West. We do not find this same level of exalting the reason in the Middle Eastern and Eastern cultures where the people make room for the spiritual realm, even though that spiritual realm may be the demonic spiritual realm.

But in the West, until the latter part of the 20th century, we discounted the spiritual realm and relegated it to the domain of third world countries. To believe in a spiritual realm, here in America and in the West, was considered a sign of ignorance. Yet, look at us now. We believe in the spirit realm, but mostly the New Age spirit realm. Those very third world countries we criticized, we now emulate. In the last 60 years or so, the spiritual realm, meaning primarily the demonic realm, has come back into vogue.

Now, we know that God says what He means and means what He says. Yet, when we put the Word to the test through prayer, and we don’t see the results the Word promises, we begin to make excuses.

Instead of admitting that the problem is on our side, we find an excuse to shift the blame to God’s side. In other words, we refuse to admit that the reason we may not have received an answer to our prayer is that we failed to receive the answer to our prayer. We refuse to admit that we missed something in the receiving process. 

I once had a discussion about healing with a pastor. When I suggested that we pray for the sick in his church, he hesitated. When I asked him why his hesitation since God’s Word commands us to pray for the sick, he said that he didn’t want anyone in his church who did not get healed to feel condemned or to feel bad.

Frankly, his response stunned me. It was a prime example of the fear of man. Sadly, this pastor was more concerned about hurting the feelings of his congregation than about the truth of God’s Word that would set them free if he preached it.

So, what happens when we ask God for something in prayer?

What happens is that God answers us immediately. But He deposits the answer in our spirits. It then becomes our responsibility to bring that answer from our spirits into our bodies or into our checkbooks or into our relationships, or wherever we need that answer to do its job.

John 4: 24 tells us that God is a Spirit. He connects with us through our spirits. He always communicates with us through our spirits, not through our feelings. Now, we may experience certain feelings when God communicates with us, but those feelings are by-products of the communication. And the feelings do not always occur.

Once we receive God’s communication in our spirits—in other words, once we receive His answer to our prayer—then it is we who give physical substance to that answer through faith.

Hebrews 11: 1 NKJV says this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.”

This verse tells us that faith puts flesh on the things we hope for, the things we do not yet see manifested in the physical realm. Faith also gives us a good testimony. In other words, when we use our faith to receive what God has placed in our spirit, our faith will give us cause to testify of God’s faithfulness toward us.

So, how do we give physical substance to God’s answer in our spirits? We do so by faith.

Our faith gives physical substance to God’s answer that resides in our spirits. Our faith takes the answer that is in our spirits and brings it into our bodies and into the physical world in which we live.

Perhaps this illustration of how radio waves work will help us to understand this process of bringing the spiritual into the physical by faith.

The human ear cannot hear radio signals unless those signals are first converted into frequencies that the human ear can pick up. When a radio station broadcasts, it uses a receiver to pick up the radio signals and then converts those signals into frequencies, or sound levels, that the human ear can detect. 

Just because we cannot hear the radio signals that a radio station is broadcasting or transmitting does not mean that those signals are not being transmitted. It simply means that we are not yet able to receive the signals until they are changed to lower frequencies that our human ears can hear.

For us to say that a radio station is not broadcasting signals just because we cannot hear those signals with our physical ears is not true. The signals are real and they are in the air, but they have not yet been converted into a form which our ears can hear. When, however, those signals are picked up by a receiver, the signals are then converted into sounds that the human ear can hear.

Now, let’s apply this analogy to God’s answers to our prayers. We could say that God’s answers to our prayers are like spiritual signals that He deposits in our spirits. Those spiritual signals are the answers to our prayers. They are the answers God has deposited into our spirits as the result of our having prayed. But, we need a receiver to convert those answers into something physical that we can experience, like healing or deliverance or financial blessing. That receiver is faith. 

For us to say that God has not answered our prayers just because we have not experienced those answers—in other words, for us to say that God has not placed His spiritual signals or answers to our prayers in our spirits—is not true. He has. He placed them there the instant we asked Him to in prayer.

But just as radio signals need to be picked up by a receiver and converted into sound before we can hear them, so do God’s answers to our prayers have to be picked up by our faith from our spirits and converted into physical answers.

In other words, the spiritual power residing in our spirits has to be converted into the physical power that brings our healing or our financial deliverance or our deliverance in any area of our lives.

This is how our prayers are answered. God gives us the answers to our prayers when we ask Him in faith, and He places those answers in our spirits because He is a Spirit and communicates with us Spirit-to-spirit.

Then we convert those answers in our spirit into a physical reality through faith. We set our faith in motion by declaring the Word, confessing the Word, standing on the Word—until we see the spiritual signal or answer to our prayer manifested as a physical reality.

So, God’s answers move from our spirits into our flesh, from the spiritual realm into our physical world, when we draw them out of the spirit realm by faith and bring them into the physical realm by declaring His Word.

You might ask, Why do I have to do this? Can’t God just drop His answers into my physical world? Well, here are two reasons God has chosen not to drop His answers directly into our physical world:

First, Scripture says that without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11: 6). Second, God needs our cooperation because He has made us co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8: 17).

In Ephesians 3: 20 NLT, we read this: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” The power of God is in us. We must cooperate with God. If we don’t understand this, we will not receive or draw into the physical realm what God has already placed in our spirits.

We read this in Mark 11: 24 GNT: “For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”

Notice that this verse instructs us to believe when we pray. When do we believe? The instant we pray. Not when we see the answer to our prayer. 

We receive the answer to our prayer in our spirit by faith, and we receive the answer immediately in our spirit. But it stays there in our spirit until we draw it out into the physical realm, again by faith.

The world says “seeing is believing.” The Bible says, “Believing is seeing. Believing is seeing!” We need to believe we have received the answer to our prayer before we see the answer to our prayer.

Faith is the currency, the medium of exchange, between the spirit realm and the physical realm.

Now, sometimes it takes a while to draw out what is in the spirit realm and bring it into the physical realm. Why? There could be a number of obstacles that are standing in the way. Those obstacles could be demonic. They could be related to unbelief or idols in our heart, or demonic strongholds, or a host of other things.

Often, then, the answer to our prayer comes to pass in the physical realm some time after we pray. It could be a few days, a few months, a few years between the moment we pray and the moment we see the physical manifestation of the answer to our prayer.

During that interval between the moment we pray and the moment we see the manifestation of the answer in the physical realm—however long that interval is—we must not waiver in our belief that God has already answered our prayer. This interval is the time of the testing of our faith. It is the time during which we develop our faith muscles.

How long the interval lasts depends upon various factors—such as the words we speak and the actions we take–but we control many of those factors.     

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“Faith is the currency, the medium of exchange, between the spirit realm and the physical realm.” ~ Dr. MaryAnn Diorio
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Remember this: God answers our prayers immediately. Our job is to believe we receive WHEN we pray. The praying, believing and receiving are simultaneous. The manifestation usually comes later, although it can come immediately. But it usually comes later to allow for the testing of our faith, the strengthening of our faith muscles.

So, when we pray, we believe when we pray. We don’t believe when we see the answer manifested. No, we believe when we pray, and we receive the answer immediately in our spirit, then it manifests later in the physical.

We read in the Book of Daniel, chapters 9 and 10, of two instances when Daniel prayed. The first time, his prayer was answered in about three minutes. The second time, it took three weeks! Why? Because demonic spirits were trying to hinder the answer from getting to him. God answered both of Daniel’s prayers instantly. The Lord was not the variable. A demonic force was.

How do we know? Because God is not unpredictable. He is not the variable in the prayer equation. We read this about God in Psalm 102: 27 NLT: “But you are always the same.” Again in Malachi 3: 6, God says,I am the LORD, and I do not change.”

The Bible tells us in 1 John 5: 14-15 ESV that if we pray a prayer according to God’s Word and God’s will, He answers it immediately. Let’s read that verse: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 

You see, God cannot contradict Himself. If He said He wills something, then He cannot turn a deaf ear to our prayer re: the thing that He wills. Once we grasp this truth, we can release our faith to bring that answer into complete manifestation in the physical realm.

Prayer is communication with God the Father through Jesus Christ. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you have not yet established that communication, Hence, God does not recognize you as His child and will not answer most of your prayers. The only prayer He will answer is your prayer to become His child. Why not pray that prayer with me now?

Lord Jesus, I want to know You. I want a personal relationship with You. I want to be able to communicate with You and have You communicate with me. So, I ask You now to come into my life. I receive You as my personal Savior and the Lord of my life. Forgive me of my sin. Make me what You created me to be. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer sincerely, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a free e-booklet that will help you get started in your walk with Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every single day. The Bible is God’s love letter to you, His manual for your life. In the Bible, God reveals Who He is, and He teaches you how to live.

Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and have fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers. It is critically important in these last days to fellowship with other believers who are mature in Christ and can guide you as you grow in Him.

If you are not yet a subscriber to the Winning with the Word blog and podcast, I urge you to click on the link below to subscribe now so you will not miss a single weekly episode:

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Featured Book of the Week:  THE IRON SAINT by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD

The Church in America is on the verge of a tremendous spiritual awakening, an awakening that will first be fueled by persecution unlike anything we have ever seen before in this land. Indeed, a prophetic word given in my home church during the month of November gave this warning to the Church: “Prepare for the fire of persecution!”

But the Church is not ready for this persecution. For the most part, the Church in America has been weak and lukewarm. Flabby and lazy. Consumed with the world and not with the things of God. As a result, the Church has been deceived and has subverted the divine order of things.

In THE IRON SAINT, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio seeks to help equip the saints for the work of true, integritous, and effective ministry. As a teacher in the Body of Christ, it is her burning desire to help correct this devastating error.

In THE IRON SAINT, Dr. Diorio has outlined a plan of action for strengthening the Church through uncompromising obedience to the Word of God. This plan of action is based on her own 50 years of walking with the Lord and being led by His Holy Spirit.

If you are a born-again believer and member of the Body of Christ, make this book a top reading priority.

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