The mystery of unanswered prayer

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In this study, you will be introduced to another facet of heavenly warfare. Previously we looked at our spiritual mandate. Does the spiritual realm affect our prayers in any way? Is there a link between answered prayer and spiritual warfare? You will learn more about the mystery of unanswered prayer.

There are three possible reasons for unanswered prayer:

  • spiritual hindrance
  • unrighteousness or sin
  • the will of our Father

May Abba YHVH continue to lead us in the truth of His Word!

We are currently studying the book of Daniel with our children on Shabbat. The book of Daniel is a fascinating book; there is so much to be gleaned from it. Comparing Daniel chapters 9 and 10, we see a substantial difference. In chapter 9, Daniel’s prayer was answered while he was still praying. However, in chapter 10, his prayer was only answered after three weeks. Daniel was earnestly praying and mourning for three weeks before he received an answer. We have all experienced times like these, times that we think we have been forgotten by our Maker. Desperate times spent in prayer, without seeing any results. What could be the reason?

Although fascinating, the book of Daniel is quite a complex book to understand, especially for children. Studying Daniel 10, we had the opportunity to teach the children a little about the spiritual realm and -warfare. We also had a chance to talk to them about our reason for not allowing any books or entertainment containing witches, dwarfs, fairies or magic. These are presented to children as good and harmless, but are actually from the pit of hell, used by ha Satan to lure children away from YHVH and His truth. It was so beautiful to see how they soak up every word. This study made me wonder about the difference between Daniel 9 and 10 and what we can learn about spiritual warfare from it.

Spiritual hindrance

Daniel chapter 9 is a beautiful passage. It describes how Daniel discovered, after he had read the book of Jeremiah that the seventy years of captivity were over. From studying the word, Daniel knew that only if they repented would they be allowed to return. (This is also explained in Leviticus 26). Daniel prayed and repented on behalf of his people and while still praying, Gabriel was sent to bring him an answer (Dan 9:20-23). This took place in the first year of Darius (539BC).

It was now three years later in the year 536BC. Daniel, who is estimated to be about 92 years old, had been praying and mourning for a period of time, without receiving any answer. He abstained from tasty food, meat and wine and did not anoint his body for this entire period. His mourning was for his people who returned from exile to Jerusalem. (The decree was issued for the city to be rebuilt, and that was being done under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.) They were experiencing great difficulty, and Daniel was supporting them in prayer; mourning before YHVH.

Twenty-one days after Daniel commenced praying and mourning an angelic being appeared to him. It could have been Gabriel, but we are not sure. This messenger was sent on the very first day Daniel humbled himself before YHVH. It took twenty-one days! The prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood this messenger, until Michael -the chief of the princes – came to help. Daniel’s prayer took twenty-one days to be answered. This here is a very good example of spiritual hindrance.

What insight can we glean from this?

Daniel was in this situation praying and mourning for his people, without seeing any results or hearing any word from YHVH for twenty-one days. What did Daniel do in this situation? He continued in setting his heart on understanding and humbling himself before YHVH. He continued in mourning and prayer.

Who did the fighting? It wasn’t Daniel! YHVH deployed His messenger Michael to fight on Daniel’s behalf.

Daniel 10:12–13
12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your Elohim, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. 13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

Have you been in a situation where you prayed without any result? We have surely all experienced it this; I know I have. What are we to do in such a situation? What did Daniel do? He continued in prayer, thus trusting in YHVH. We are to be faithful trusting in YHVH, waiting on Him; He will answer our prayers if we trust in Him.

Micah 7:7
7 But as for me, I will watch expectantly for YHVH; I will wait for the Elohim of my salvation. My Elohim will hear me.

1 Chronicles 5:20
20 They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to Elohim in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.

Sin and unrighteousness

There are, in my opinion, however, conditions to the answering of prayer. The first condition is righteousness.

Daniel was a righteous man. Throughout his life, he lived in accordance to YHVH’s Torah. He did not eat abominable food (Dan 1:8) he always remained obedient to YHVH. He was thrown into a lion’ den for the same. He continued in faithful prayer to YHVH when it was illegal to do so (Dan 6:11). Daniel remained a man of integrity even while being in captivity almost his entire life.

Psalm 34:15–19
15 The eyes of YHVH are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of YHVH is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and YHVH hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 YHVH is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But YHVH delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 145:17–20
17 YHVH is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds. 18 YHVH is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. 20 YHVH keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.

Proverbs 15:8
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to YHVH, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

Proverbs 15:29
29 YHVH is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

What does it mean to fear YHVH? What does it mean to love YHVH?

We have seen from Ps 145 that YHVH will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will hear their cry and save them. What does it mean to fear YHVH? To fear YHVH is to keep His commandments. To love YHVH is to keep His commandments!

Deuteronomy 6:2
2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear YHVH your Elohim, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear Elohim and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.

Deuteronomy 11:1
1 “You shall therefore love YHVH your Elohim, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.

John 14:15
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

What is righteousness? Who are the righteous?

Righteousness: In Scripture this word means to do what is right in the eyes of the Father, or as most scholars of Scripture agree: “Righteousness is conformity to law, especially to the law, mind and will of [the Almighty], which is the norm of righteousness.” In Deut 6:25 we read that righteousness requires of us “to guard to do all these commands before יהוה Elohim, as He commanded us.” In Psalm 119:172 the Psalmist says, “For all Your commands are righteousness.” In Isa 51:7 we read, “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is My Torah (law).” However before we start doing righteousness (the commands) we first need to be “declared right,” by belief. We first need to have our sins forgiven, we first need to come to belief, to come into a covenant relationship with the Most High through His Son יהושׁע(Y’shua). On this point Sha’ul(Paul) repeatedly spoke in Romans chs. 3, 4 and 5. In his day many Yehuḏim thought that because they were the descendants of Aḇraham, and were trying to keep the law their way, that they were right or righteous. No! They were putting the cart before the horse. We first need to believe and accept יהושׁע(Y’shua) and His forgiveness, and then only does it become our privilege, and duty, to obey יהושׁע(Y’shua), as He commands us: Go and sin no more.
Institute for Scripture Research. (2000). The Scriptures (1220). South Africa: Institute for Scripture Research (Pty) Ltd.

Psalm 119:172
172 Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

To be righteous is to live according to YHVH’s ways. Allow me to give you an example. If YHVH said we are to keep the seventh day Sabbath, and we don’t do it, we are not living according to His ways. We are transgressing his law, thus pursuing unrighteousness or sin.

Sin is a major reason why our prayers are not answered. What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law, YHVH’s instructions (1John 3:4).

Proverbs 28:9
9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Isaiah 1:15
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

Isaiah 59:2
2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your Elohim, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

YHVH’s Word was given to us to define sin. Not being obedient to YHVH’s instructions is sin and will cause our prayers to remain unanswered. However, we serve a merciful Elohim. Repentance will bring us back to Him. Repentance is turning away from sin and living an obedient life.

2 Kings 22:19–20
19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before YHVH when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares YHVH. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.” ’ ” So they brought back word to the king.

Jeremiah 26:13
13 “Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of YHVH your Elohim; and YHVH will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you.

There are many examples in the Scripture to prove this point. Think of the people of Nineve in the book of Jonah, they were so unrighteous that it warranted total destruction, but they repented. Their prayers of repentance were heard, and they were not destroyed(Jona 3:4-10).There is hope for us yet! We have forgiveness through Y’shua; thus true repentance will cause Yahovah to hear our cry and answer our prayers.

Will our prayers always be answered if we live righteously and trust in Him? I would think, for the most part, yes, but there is something important to consider: is my prayer in line with Abba YHVH’s Word and with His will for my life?

“Your will be done..”(Matt 6:10)

When Y’shua prayed, He prayed that YHVH’s will be done on earth as in heaven. We are to pray, likewise. He will not answer prayers that are not His will for us. Some things are brought across our path to test us or to teach us. Can we expect Him to remove these from us and so deprive us of a growth opportunity? Therefor, in conclusion, after all is said and done; may His will be done in our lives, not ours.

It reminds of King Hezekiah. He was one of the most righteous kings. YHVH appointed his time to die and told him through Isaiah. He pleaded for his life, and fifteen years were added to him. In this time, he transgressed. He showed all the riches of his Kingdom in pride. This resulted in punishment on his children. Wouldn’t it have been better for his children if YHVH’s will was done?

I also think that Abba YHVH will not answer prayer that is contrary to His word. That too will be against His will. How are we to know His will? His word is His will.

Matthew 6:10
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Do we have to agree with others in order for our prayers to be heard?

NO! Although Matt 18:19 is always quoted to prove this, it is quoted out of it’s originally intended context. Go and study this verse in context (Matt 18:15-20). It is about discipline, not prayer. It is instruction on how to handle the sin of a brother in a righteous manner.

It is also not in the context of spiritual warfare. It doesn’t mean we can bind things, and it will be so in heaven. It has everything to do with discipline and conduct within a community. We can only bind what is already bound in heaven. That is our mandate. It means we cannot enforce our own way of doing on earth, but we are to conduct ourselves in line with Yahovah’s way. Our previous post “Defining the keys of the Kingdom,” explained it in detail.

However, having said this, we are to pray for each other. We are constantly to support each other in prayer.

1 Timothy 2:1
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,

James 5:16
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

If we confess our sins to one another, we can pray for each other. We can even pray for the forgiveness of other’s sin. Both Jeremiah and Daniel repented on behalf of the nation (Jer 3:25, Dan 9:8).


Whenever we go through a time of unanswered prayer, we should consider our lives and repent if necessary. We are to persevere in faith and trust. Consider also that it might be a period of testing or teaching and rejoice in it; however, difficult it might be.

James 1:2–6
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.




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