What about hindered prayer and unanswered prayer?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Do unconfessed sins prevent God from hearing our prayers? Why do some prayers go unanswered? These are important questions, and we need to be very careful that we look at what the Bible says, and most importantly, where it says it. We have no desire to appeal to church tradition or other speculation.


For instance, in 1 Peter 3:7, the Apostle Peter writes: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” Are our prayers “hindered” today in the Dispensation of Grace as Peter writes? Remember, Peter is writing to Israel in her program, for Peter is an apostle of Israel (Galatians 2:9).

What about Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me?” Does this mean that God will not hear our prayers if we have unconfessed sin? Isaiah 59:1-2 is another confusing passage for people regarding prayer: “[1] Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [2] But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

We have continual fellowship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Never does our Apostle, Paul, say our prayers are “hindered” because of our performance (or lack thereof). Isaiah 59:1-2 is an instance of how God dealt with the nation Israel under the performance-based acceptance of the Mosaic Law. According to Deuteronomy chapter 28, God blessed Israel is she obeyed all of His laws, and He cursed Israel if she disobeyed.

As believers in Jesus Christ, the so-called “unconfessed sin” that religion teaches is not the issue because our sins have been dealt with at the cross and we are forgiven in Christ. If our prayers being answered depended on whether or not we confessed all of our sins, we would never get one prayer answered, since it is impossible to remember every sin we have ever committed. Again, all of sins were paid for in full at Calvary’s cross, so they no longer separate us from God. Unconfessed sin is not the issue today; Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is the issue. Our performance is not the issue; Jesus Christ’s performance at Calvary is the issue.

Remember Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” And Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” And Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” And, finally, Colossians 2:13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”


Do we always get everything for which we ask in prayer? Have you prayed for something and never got it? Why did these verses not work for you? Perhaps you have the following verses quoted in church. “Ask, and it shall be given you,” Jesus Christ said (Matthew 7:7). In 1 John 3:22 we read: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” In John 14:13-14, Jesus Christ says: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Remember, when we “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we understand that these verses belong in Israel’s program. They were spoken to Israel, not to us (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:9). Our Apostle Paul never writes anything like Matthew 7:7, John 24:13-14, or 1 John 3:22. In fact, God never healed and delivered Paul, although Paul prayed for healing and deliverance three times in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

God hears all of our prayers. Sometimes it seems like He does not answer them. If we are praying outside of God’s will, how do we expect God to answer them? We cannot make God do something He is not doing today. Us praying like Israel did is trying to make God do things He is not doing today. For example, why did Elijah pray that it would not rain for three-and-a-half years (1 Kings 17:1-2; James 5:17-18)? Because, in Deuteronomy 11:16-17, God said He would not cause it to rain as part of His righteous judgment against pagan, idolatrous Israel. Prayer is praying in accordance with what God is doing today, and the Four Gospels and the Old Testament is not what God is doing today. Our prayers will always bear fruit as long as they agree with Paul’s epistles: “the effectual prayer of a righteous man [saint] availeth much” (James 5:16)

Also see:
» To whom should I pray?
» How should I pray?
» Should I pray the rosary?