5 Questions to Ask When Prayers Feel Unanswered

By Margaret Willden

Have you ever offered a prayer and waited for an answer that never seemed to come? You’re not alone. So here are a few questions you might ask yourself when you feel like the questions you’re asking God haven’t been answered:

1. Am I ready to act on the answer?

Praying with real intent includes being ready to act on the answer you receive—whether or not it’s the answer that you want or expect. Joseph Smith showed this intent to act when he asked God which church he should join.

2. Have I done everything in my power?

We need to do our part to receive the blessings. Have you studied it out (see D&C 9:7–8)? Have you been obedient (see D&C 58:31–33)? Have you prepared as best you can (see Ether 3:4)?

3. Have I missed the answer?

Heavenly Father always hears you. Is it possible that He has already answered your prayer? As it says in Doctrine and Covenants 6:14, “As often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit.” You can pray to recognize the answer, because prayers are sometimes answered in subtle or indirect ways—like through the actions of others.

4. Are my desires righteous?

If you are asking for something that isn’t in your best interest, He may be protecting you. Ask yourself, “Is this what the Savior would want?” If not, pray to know what the Savior would have you desire. Otherwise, your selfish or unrighteousness desires may eventually be granted (see Alma 29:4–5).

5. Is it the right time?

What we ask for must be right, but the timing must be right too. Heavenly Father has a grand plan, but His schedule is sometimes a little different than ours. “My words are sure and shall not fail. … But all things must come to pass in their time” (D&C 64:31–32). 

Learn More

Learn more about recognizing answers to prayers in Elder James B. Martino’s talk “Turn to Him and Answers Will Come.”