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Scripture Reading: Isaiah 59:1-8

Success and Failure in Prayer


1.  Generally, people have a view that if their prayer is not answered “yes” then it is not answered at all!

  a.  First, God only hears and answers the prayers of the righteous, 1 Pet. 3:12 (Prov. 15:29).

  b.  But, righteous men have been answered “no”, 2 Cor. 12:8-9. Paul’s prayer was not a failure, even though the answer was different than his initial desire. Through pray and its answer (“no, but I will be with you”) he grew strong in Christ.

2.  Successful prayer is prayed with a faith that honors God, waits for and trusts in God’s answer – whatever the answer is.

3.  What conditions are necessary for prayer to be successful? And, what are some things that contribute to failure in prayer?



  A.  With a Contrite Heart, Psa. 51:14-17.

    1.  Crushed by our sin, humbled by our condition and reverent in our approach before the holy God: He will be pleased with this.

    2.  Humble themselves, pray and seek His face, turn from sin: God would hear and forgive, 2 Chrn. 7:12-15.

    3.  Two men, only one heard and blessed by God; Lk. 18:9-14.

    4.  Godly fear, Heb. 5:7.

  B.  With our Whole Heart, Jer. 29:11-14.

    1.  Set our heart and soul to seek God; then we will “pray without ceasing” & be heard by our Father in heaven (1 Ths. 5:17; 1 Pet. 3:10-12).

    2.  Not to lose heart, but bring our whole heart to God when we pray! Lk. 18:1

  C.  With Faith in God and His Power, Mk. 11:24.

    1.  Faith does not mean prayer is a “blank check” that we fill out and God must cash it! (cf. Paul)

    2.  We come to God with complete trust and put our lives in his hands, cf. Jesus, Mk. 14:36.

      a.  Not double-minded, but a focused faith, Jas. 1:5-8.

      b.  Confidence God hears us (his people), 1 Jno. 5:14 (Heb. 4:16).

  D.  Being Righteous People, Jas 5:16.

    1.  God does not hear prayers of sinners, Jno. 9:31; Psa. 66:18-20.

    2.  God is not in communion with sinners; prayer a blessing in Christ.

  E.  In Obedience, 1 Jno. 3:22-23.

      -Heb. 5:7-8: Jesus was heard because he had godly fear and obeyed the Father’s will.



  A.  Disobedience, cf. Deut. 1:43-45 (Israel); Saul (1 Sam. 28:6).

  B.  Not Hearing the Law of God, Prov. 28:9.

      -(Ex. Issue of women preachers, 1 Tim. 2:11-12. Those in violation are not heard by God!)

  C.  Vain Worship and Sinful Treatment of Others, Isa. 1:12-15; 59:1-8; Micah 3:4; Ezek. 8:17-18.

  D.  Self-indulgence, Jas. 4:3-4.

    1.  Calling evil good, many pray to God expecting him to answer, so they can satisfy their lusts!

    2.  Such selfish sinfulness will not obtain an audience before God’s throne!

    3.  Instead, draw near with clean hands & pure hearts (4:8-10).



1.  Prayer is God’s blessing to his children that secures us, assures us and convinces us that God loves us, hears us and supplies what we truly need, Phil. 4:6-7, 19.

2.  We must not hinder the power of prayer by sinning against the Lord and ignoring his rightful place in our hearts and lives.