“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)
People often complain that God doesn’t hear their prayers, especially when God does not respond in the way they would like. But He can hear, all right! “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear?” He even hears our thoughts. “Thou knowest . . . my thought afar off” (Psalm 94:9; 139:2).
It is not that God cannot hear, but it just may be that we have not met the conditions for answered prayer so that He will hear. Probably the most important of these conditions is obedience to His Word. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” said Jesus, “ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). But, “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).
There are other conditions, of course. “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6). “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,” said Jesus (John 14:13). “If we ask any thing according to his will . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
Even if we do meet all the conditions, however, He may not answer immediately or in the way we prefer, and He might even answer no. After all, He knows better than we just what is best for us, and He will see that “all things work together for good” for us if we truly “love God” (Romans 8:28).
But, first of all, we need to check our lives in relation to His Word. Then, “if our heart condemn us not . . . whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments” (1 John 3:21-22). HMM