Many people wonder why their prayers aren’t answered, and some even give up praying because it hasn’t worked. There are a variety of reasons why God doesn’t respond to our prayers. Perhaps something in our lives is preventing Him from answering, or maybe our request is not according to His will. However, another reason for unanswered prayer is that we may not be praying to the one true God, but to a god whom we’ve fashioned according to our own preferences and desires.
The first essential element of effective prayer is that it must be directed to the one true God. All of us who are believers in Christ can confidently bring our requests to the Lord because we know the One to whom we pray.
However, many people today say they believe in God and pray to Him, but in reality, their prayers are directed to a deity whom they have created in their own minds. He suits their lifestyle and is in agreement with whatever they request. Furthermore, this self-made god doesn’t convict them of sin, righteousness, or a coming judgment. If questioned about the nature of their god or what they ask of him, they often become defensive, declaring that their religion is a private affair and no one else’s business.
The one true God is holy and righteous, hates sin, and will one day judge every person. He is the Creator of the world, and the One who condemned the earth by sending a flood. He has given us the Ten Commandments as His righteous standard, the encouraging psalms of David, and prophecies regarding the future through His prophets. And ultimately, He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Lord through whom we have the forgiveness of our sins. Our God loves us unconditionally but will not tolerate sin in our lives because He knows it’s destructive. He alone has the power to answer our prayers and fulfill His promise to give us eternal life with Him forever in heaven.
In contrast, a man-made god has no power to answer prayer and can offer no assurance of heaven. Although many people have discounted the reality of hell and have tried to find comfort in saying their god is one of love who welcomes everyone into heaven, they have no foundation for such a hope. All their prayers are useless and have no effect on their lives.
Are you certain that you are praying to the one true God, or have you redefined Him according to your desires? Be sure your perception of God is based on what He says about Himself in His Word—and trust Him to answer your prayers according to His will and in His time.
This article was originally published on June 30, 2017, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Prayer That Moves God,” which airs this weekend on TV.