Is there a time when prayer is not helpful?

Hello A,

Thank you for contacting BibleAsk.

There is a time when prayer is not helpful. If a person knowingly disobeys God and yet asks God to bless him (though he does not plan to repent),

In order for prayer to be acceptable to God, it must be coupled with a decision to forsake all known sin (Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; 58:3–5; Psalm 34:15; John 9:31; James 4:3). When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit and righteousness. The Lord supplies all the grace needed for victory “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4).

Another reason for unanswered prayer is lack of faith: “When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7). “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrew 11:6).

Now, if a person makes a decision to follow the Lord but does not have the desire to do it, God promises to give him both the will and the action “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). God provides the stimulus for our initial decision to accept salvation and the power to make that decision effective.

This does not mean that we are completely passive entities, subject only to God’s disposal, but that God provides the stimulus that awakens our desire to be saved, that He enables us to make the decision to attain salvation. Redemption is a cooperation between God and man, with God providing all the needed grace for man.

The Bible teaches that God answers prayers of the faithful “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Jesus assures, “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). And the apostle John also confirms, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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