The #1 Reason for Unanswered Prayer – James 4

You do not receive because you don’t ask.  James 4:2 (OGV)

The word “prayer” is mentioned in the New Testament about 80 times; the word “ask,” referring to prayer, about 70 times.

The New Testament uses the word “ask” to describe prayer more than any other word.  James says that the reason your prayers are not answered is that you do not ask.

When I question others about their praying, my lead question is “Have you had an answered prayer request lately?” If they answer, “God blesses me daily,” or “I pray constantly,” I press with the question, “Can you list a specific answered prayer?”

Too often they can’t.

James says the reason you do not receive is because you do not ask. No answers equal you aren’t praying, or at least what you are doing in the morning isn’t asking.

Quickly! List an answered prayer!

If you can’t, do you pray? If you do pray, are you asking correctly? Praying means asking and asking means answers.

If you get answers from asking, you pray more often. Asking can be addicting. Prayerlessness results from no answers and then either drifting into a droll repetition while praying or decreasing to no prayers at all.

Not very exciting.

Start praying by asking. Develop a list of 15 specific requests for 2021, ask every day, and record the answers!

James 4 gives a list on why God doesn’t answer prayers:

  • Quarrels and conflicts v. 1
  • Lust v. 2
  • Envy v. 2
  • Wrong motives v. 3
  • Focusing on pleasure v. 3
  • Friendship with the world v. 4
  • Pride v. 6

James also gives a list for answered prayer:

  • Ask v. 2
  • Right motives v. 3
  • Friendship with your Father v. 4
  • Walking with the Spirit v. 5
  • Grace v. 6
  • Submission or ordering your life correctly v. 7
  • Drawing close to God v. 8
  • Purity v. 8
  • Humility v. 10

The secret to asking is asking specifically. Can a general prayer of “God bless me” or “Let 2021 be better than 2020,” be answered in a way that you would even notice?

In 2016, I prayed for three million dollars at a small retreat in the Philippines. Returning home, I found our church was two million dollars in debt. Two million for the church and one million to develop First Steps Discipleship.

I prayed the three million dollars prayer before I understood the reason.

I continue to ask. It has been a progressive answer (more on progressive answers soon) and our debt at the church now stands at $380,000 and dwindling daily. One million three hundred thousand to go. I ask specifically – often.

I want to fulfill my desire for Springfield to become a discipling center to the world. I have been intrigued by the continuing local, national, and worldwide impact of Interruptions.

For the next two weeks, I will be developing my current list of “15 Asks” for 2021.

I know, three million… I’m nuts. I think it is better to be a crazy person “asking big” than safe requests for nothing at all.

A last challenge from James:

When you know the right thing to do and don’t ask Him for the resources or even attempt to be obedient, you are missing the glory of God’s calling in your life.  James 4:17 (the New Paraphrased OGV)

Other Interruptions on the Book of James are numbered 200, 206, 213, 219, 224 and 230. Take a look at

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *