Why Aren’t My Prayers Answered? 3 Things The Block God’s Grace

by June, Prayer

We sometimes wonder why our prayers are not answered in the way that we hope. And often, we will never know because there are so many variables, including the fact that we may actually be asking God for something that’s not good for us in the long run. Or we may be trying to get God to do our will rather than the other way around. Or perhaps God is not answering our prayers with a “no” but rather with a “not yet,” and we just need to be patient.

Having said that, there are some things we know for sure when it comes to prayer and the grace of God that prayer and worship bring to us. The Church has many beautiful teachings about God’s grace, what it is, and how we receive it – but did you know that we also have some pretty specific teachings about how we can block God’s grace from coming to us? In other words, if you feel like your prayers are not being answered, or that God feels absent, or that you are just not receiving the blessings you wish for, first check yourself on these three grace blockers and see whether any of them apply to you.

Why Aren’t My Prayers Answered? 3 Things The Block God’s Grace

1. Are you refusing to forgive anyone who has wronged you? Immediately after Jesus taught His disciples the Our Father, he commented on only one line from His prayer: …as we forgive those who trespass against us. And he said, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15, NABRE). Jesus makes it clear – there is no Protestant doctrine of sola fide (“faith alone”) or sola gratia (“grace alone”) here – there are things we have to do to receive salvation, and one of them is to forgive others (also see the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Matthew 18:23-35). This means that holding a grudge against someone, holding on to anger or obsessing about past wrongs done to you, or any similar kind of resentment – all of this blocks your prayers and blocks God’s grace from coming into your life.

2. Are you too full of pride? When you pray for others, are you praying for them to do your will? Are your intercessions really prayers for yourself, in which you ask God to make other people do what you think they should do? Are you judgmental, focusing on the specks in other people’s eyes but living in denial about the beams in your own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5, Luke 6:39-42)? All the Church fathers and desert fathers would agree that the key to your prayer life is humility, but pride blocks grace, and it blocks your prayers. Self-righteousness, judgmentalism, a lack of empathy, and even gossip are all forms of pride. Think about what it would take for you to be more humble, to be harder on yourself than you are on others, and to live a life of showing compassion, even for people you may think aren’t living right.

3. Are you failing to be grateful? Once when Jesus healed ten lepers, nine of them went away, and only one came back to properly thank him (Luke 17:11-19). In Jesus’ final words in this passage, he says to the man, “Your faith has saved you.” So that implies that although ten were healed, only one was saved. We have been given so many blessings that no one could count them all. And when we factor in the fact that we deserve less than none of them, our whole lives should be characterized by gratitude. In fact, that’s what the Church fathers said about prayer – thanksgiving is not a particular kind of prayer, but it is the foundation of every prayer and the attitude with which every prayer should be prayed. But if you feel like your prayer life is dry, maybe it lacks gratitude. And ingratitude – even in prayer – can manifest itself as complaining, impatience, and a kind of entitlement that assumes you deserve more than what you have. In fact, I would argue that all complaining comes from a sense of entitlement for something better than what we have at the moment.

And one last thing – don’t forget that the original name for our primary Sacrament is the Eucharist, which is really just the Greek word for thanksgiving. In fact, the early Christians referred to the Mass as THE Thanksgiving. So maybe one of the most prevalent ways that Catholics fail to be grateful to God is by skipping Mass. Are you skipping Mass or treating it like it’s optional? Remember that Jesus himself said there are some things we have to do to receive salvation? Well, another one of those things is regular reception of the Eucharist. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:54-56). So, if you want your prayer life to flourish, and if you want to receive God’s grace, don’t skip Mass.

Keep learning about prayer in Dr. Papandrea’s newest book, Praying Like the Early Church: Seven Insights from the Church Fathers to Help You Connect with God, found HERE!

best catholic newsletter

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Great Catholic Father's Day Gifts
at the Catholic-Link Co. Store!

Keep Searching, Keep Learning

Our Newest Articles:

Find the perfect Catholic gift for Dad here!

Search Catholic-Link

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest