Are All Prayers Answered?

Question

I realize that God controls everything. Therefore I pray to Him that He help me in whatever I do, even for the small, insignificant things. The problem is, He doesn’t seem to hear. Why isn’t God answering my prayers?

7 months

Answers

  1. It is very good that you realize the need to pray to God for help in whatever you do. Praying to God is a positive commandment mentioned many times in the Torah, for example “I command you this day…to serve [Me] with all your heart” (Deut. 11:13). Our sages clarified “What is service of the heart? It is prayer”. We are particularly commanded to pray to Him for help in times of distress (Num. 12:9).

    The Torah warns, “Beware…lest you say in your heart, ‘my strength and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:17). We must remember that while we need to strive for what we want, ultimately our success is from God. Praying to Him for success helps us to remember this. Conversely, since success depends on God, He may decide, either for our own good or because we lack merit, not to answer our prayers.

    The Talmud teaches that one who is persistent in his prayers will ultimately be answered. Expecting God to answer our prayers, though, is wrong, and can cause “heart pains” when the prayer goes unanswered. In such a case, what should one do? Our Sages suggest studying Torah, which will increase one’s merit in order that the prayers be answered. Then pray again, as the verse suggests, “Wait on the Lord, strengthen your heart, and wait on the Lord” (Psalms 27:14).

    That being said, often God answers and it is we who don’t hear: Once a man fell overboard and was in danger of drowning. He prayed to God, “Save me.” A man rowed by and offered to pull him aboard. “God will save me”, he replied. A sailboat passed and threw him a rope. “God will save me”. A large ship approached and lowered a ladder. “God will save me”. Eventually the man drowned and, standing before the heavenly tribunal, demanded “I had faith in God, I prayed to Him, why didn’t He answer me?” Came the reply, “He answered you three times but you weren’t listening”.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team