How Do You Know the Answer To Your Prayer Is No?

Jesus-the-Grain-Field-350-webby Rex Rouis

The other day, we were having a conversation about faith, prayer, and the things of God. During the discussion, one person made the following statement, “Sometimes God says no to our prayers.” I think they were trying to bring a measure of ‘balance’ to our talk of faith, and to remind us that God is sovereign and He has a will. The popular phrase usually goes like this, “God answers all prayer, sometimes yes and sometimes no.”

This made me think – ‘How do people know that the answer is no?’ How is it conveyed? Do they actually hear God say, “No?” I think not. Does He speak to their heart by a conviction or an inner witness that His will is otherwise? Again, no. What they mean is this – the answer did not come. They prayed and did not receive, so they assumed the answer was no.

It makes sense. We all know that God is not going to give us everything we pray for. Some things He answers yes, and to these we receive the answer, and to some things, He says no and nothing happens. I get it, it sounds good, except that it is not what the Bible says.

Nowhere does the Bible actually say that God answers prayer. People look at prayer and faith as being the same. They are not. There is a world of difference between the two. You can pray in faith and you can pray while not in faith. In other words, there is believing prayer and there is unbelieving prayer. The Bible says:

Therefore I say unto you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Mark 11:24 NASB

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:24 KJV

The Bible says that ALL believing prayer WILL receive the believed result. It also implies that unbelieving prayer MAY NOT receive. There is always hope in God’s mercy.

So, God does answer all prayer, sometimes yes and sometimes no. Except that, you should know if He is going to answer your prayer when you pray and not later when you receive or don’t receive. What determines the answer is our believing. To the faith-filled believing prayer, God says, ‘Yes’ – all believing prayer, always. To the doubt filled unbelieving prayer, God says, ‘No.’ God responds to faith, and only to faith. He does not respond to needs or pain. If He did, He would be doing a terrible job as God, for the world is filled with needs and pain.

Nowhere does the Bible actually say that God answers prayer.
But You say, “What if you are believing for something that is not God’s will?” Great question; I believe that is impossible because faith and believing is based on the will of God. If the thing is not the will of God, then there is no way to actually have Bible faith for it. Faith, true Bible faith, is based on two things, first the promises in the word of God (God’s written will), and secondly, the spoken word (God’s personal confirmation) from Christ to us that creates the faith in our heart. Faith comes from God, so it is impossible to have it apart from the will of God. We may think that we are believing for it but in reality it is just mental ascent, a type of hope.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the (spoken) word of Christ. Romans 10:17

The purpose of faith to bring the already sanctioned will of God into this world  – (through faith) thy will be done on earth as it is (already) in Heaven. It is our job to know the general will of God through the promises of God, and His specific will through His spoken word to us. Bible promises tell us what we can have (hope), and His spoken word tells us what we do have (faith). You don’t receive His word of faith until you have met the conditions of the promise. Once you have faith, you have the ‘sub-stance’ (reality) of the hope.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not (yet) seen. Hebrews 11:1

Jesus expected those around Him to have faith before they received, and it is the same today. He expects us to pray in faith. Faith is the deciding factor. Study the Word of God and read the articles on this site to learn how to receive faith, release faith, and walk in faith. The Bible says that OUR faith overcomes the world.

Faith comes from God, so it is impossible to have it apart from the will of God.


  1. So according to this, if we pray and believe it will happen that is not faith.
    It will be received only if God puts faith in us which he dispenses. How do you distinguish between praying with belief as you are told to do and you think you have faith and praying with the faith God put in you which is to tell you your request will come to pass. Am I missing something?

  2. I don’t know if I understand you correctly that the only time you don’t get a unfavorable answer from God is when you don’t pray in faith? and that you could never pray in faith outside of His will?
    If this is what you are implying I’d like to disagree with you. I believe Moses prayed in faith to enter Canaan and God still said no to him. I believe Paul prayed in faith for God to remove the thorn in his flesh and God still said no to him. Why? it was not his will to remove the thorn because he wanted Paul to rather just rely on His grace to carry him through whatever discomfort he had. God never addressed any issues of faith or lack thereof in his answer to Paul. if it were any issue of faith God would have said so instead of saying My grace is sufficient for you. I do not believe there is any amount of faith that could have changed God’s mind.
    Oh and also, the word says in 1 John 5: 14 that when we pray according to HIS [God’s] WILL he hears us.

    God bless..

    1. wow! faith is so complex. “when we ask according to His will, He answers us”. no one can force God to do what He doesn’t want to do. when our prayer is in line with His will, He will do it. i agree with you sister.

  3. God will not turn back the hands of time but he can and will forgive and then He will do what only He can do – Redeem the time. Joel 2:25

  4. What about praying to win the lottery? God has unlimited resources. Or having a 2ND chance at having a good paying career job again. I want to be rich or at least have a good job again in the public sector.

    1. Author

      Ron – God wants you to be successful. There are plenty promises in the Bible for that. Rich?! That is up to you. Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and all these things (that the non-Christians seek) will be added to you. You cannot believe for and pray for anything that is not covering in God’s promises. Rex

  5. This is answered in Leviticus 18:22. It is also discussed in Genesis 19, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, hence the word “sodomy”.
    The word “gay” is not used, nor is a substitute for it. So I guess to answer your question, it would depend on your interpretation of the word gay. Do you believe that “gay” refers to urges and thoughts, or acting on those thoughts? The actions themselves are what is prohibited. I personally do not believe that someone’s thoughts/urges make them gay, no more so than thinking about killing someone makes you a murderer. I believe that those thoughts are a burden to abstain from acting on. This view is heavily criticized, especially with the argument that “they were born/created this way”. To that I say, so too are alcoholics, yet we have no problem instructing them to abstain from alcohol. We all have our inner struggles and burdens. Our actions are what we are judged for.

  6. Is your prayer covered in the bible. Is what your asking for based on the word. Or there scriptures that cover what you are asking? If the answer is yes than u have your answer. Faith begins where the will of God is known. If u want to know if God will answer your prayer go to his word. The word of God is the will of God. So if what you are praying for is in his will than your answer is yes.

    1. I used to think the same thing. I believed God was going to come in and rescue us–I KNEW it,a actually. I “felt” confirmation from Him, I followed, prayed, you name it. And it just didn’t happen. I kept praying. Still…nothing. More prayer followed by nothing. Now, three and a half years have gone by…and still no “yes” to my prayer and no sign on it ever happening. In fact, everything keeps working OUT of my favor, not for me. I have zero prayer warriors left and now find myself hanging on by just the tiniest thread, asking God to please talk to me. I ask Him if the answer is YES or NO, please just tell me already. At this point though, I find them Im losing my belief in God answering anyways. How are we supposed to believe in it when we don’t get any answers?
      Also…Ive heard others with the same belief system on prayer..BUT…if someone like me comes in they usually dismiss everything they said. It suddenly is no longer true that God always answers.
      I guess Im at the point of knowing God is a mystery and believing that the fear of Him is what keeps me a Christian more than anything. We exist FOR HIM…so maybe some prayers go unanswered simply because were not here to get our prayers answered in the first place. He may answer some but He will bless who he wants.

  7. God can restore your marriage. There is a preacher by the name of Joseph prince he has a book called destined to reign and sermons about restoration. Look him up on youtube or joseph u will be blessed.

  8. Aw my sweet you are so wrong. You have got to change your thinking. You must first know that God loves you with an every lasting love and even in your mistakes that Love doesnt change. We make mistakes and do regretful things that is why he is so forgiving. God can restore your life thats why Jesus died to restore. You have to ask for wisdom to show you the way you went wrong, then ask for understanding so you can rebuild. This starts with spending time in God’s word. Praying the more time you spend the more clarity in his word will come. You have got to trust him, even when your mind, emotions and sometimes even your body says otherwise. Its a process but its possible. God bless u

  9. I keep asking for something that I know Hod will never grant, but yet I still can’t stop praying for it. Its stupid, but ibr been asking God for months to send me back in time to last year before I made a huge mistake based on deception that ended up costing me everything. I can not believe that God would make my future better than my past was and have grown bitter feeling like He doesn’t care.

  10. I am new to my Spiritual Journey with GOD. It took some devastating life tragedies for me to know that GOD was trying to draw me closer to Him…but Thank God that it has been made clear to me now. My Husband and I have been separated for a little less than a year, ( not my choice) but I have been praying and asking GOD for complete restoration, we still communicate, he still states that he loves me,but we’re still separated. So my question is will GOD,say No to something that He has already ordained?

  11. I believe in things useen…actually the unseen is more real than the seen. I take no for an answer from God when I pray. I pray in faith and the things I know are in his will I just know it will be….saving the soul, healing of the illness…but some things in my life are not as clear cut. Buying the right home, waiting for months on a short sale and asking for his direction. Because it’s not clear cut to me that it’s his will for me to have it I look for yes AND I look for no. I don’t know better than God on the outcome of that prayer, I could pray it and claim it and completely believe it but then who is running the show? ME or God? So in closing…I love the No as well as the Yes. (maybe not as much at times) but at least I know the path my feet are on is his not mine.

  12. I’m so glad to find this help for prayer life. I’ve been in church all my life and have rarely heard anything close to the clarity that this writing gives about prayer. Walking the christian life is something I’ve done for over 33 years, but I still struggled with praying for things that I needed. I’m currently praying for my husband to receive a much needed job right now, and have been discouraged by the lack and loss we’ve experienced as a family. Our prayer to God has been to supply our need, but have been apparently praying with disbelief adding that ever present ‘If it be Your will’ portion. I’m going to remember that God’s will is that He wishes for us to KNOW He will meet our needs, and that it IS His will that we receive His provision–that means a job! I ask you, my fellow brothers and sisters, to join with me in prayer for this. I’m sharing this with my husband and we are going with renewed faith to the Throne to ask for His favor, knowing it is already done. Thanks to all of you, and I’ll see you on the other side.

    1. Author

      Prayer Walker – We agree with you in Jesus Name. Keep putting the Word and good clear Bible teaching into you so faith will always come out of you. God bless you. See you on the other side, and concerning the other side, look up the book Intra Muros on our site. It is a vision of Heaven that we given about a 100 years ago. It is a wonderful little book. We have it to view or download. God bless. Rex

  13. Hello, I enjoyed reading your article and it appears to be well founded in the scripture, however I was unable to understand your reasoning behind asking for things against God’s will.

    “But You say, “What if you are believing for something that is not God’s will?” Great question; I believe that is impossible because faith is based on the will of God. Faith is based on knowing the will of God, as revealed in the promises in the Bible, and by the spoken word to us from Christ, through the Holy Spirit.”

    If you could elaborate on this I would be very appreciative.

    Thanks, and God Bless,
    John King

  14. Hello my name is Julie Bryant please keep myself and my mom Chrissy in your prayers she is facing a lot of different health issues and I need prayer for some personal issues I really love this site it has really helped me

  15. Hi,please pray with me for total healing of verious cronic illnesses and for speedy victory of my workmans compensation claim and my lawyers,doctors and the pannel of assors to be in my favour through the holy Spirit in Jesus mighty name.Be blessed in the lord.

  16. I have seen the results of praying the prayer of faith many times over the years since I learned about it for the first time in 1986.
    When I believe, I see results. When I let worry, concern or other things enter in, things get really tough. The first time I “tested” Mark 11:24 was with something simple (at least to me). Warts. I prayed and then stood on Mark 11:24 and a few other simple scriptures for about 3 months. Then, they started getting larger! I laughed it off and kept saying what the Bible said. Then, after approximately 3 months, I woke up one morning and when I went to wash my hands, I noticed they’d disappeared about 95%. By the next day they were completely gone.

    Once you start asking yourself the question, “Why is it taking so long,” you’ll have a long road ahead of you.

    That has been my experience. That’s because you’ll find a million reasons why along with dozens of things you can “work on” to shorten that time. And you’ll find yourself going in one big circle. Stop asking why and start using that same thought-power, analysis and introspection to count your blessings instead. Jesus kept his faith teaching simple for a reason. He didn’t go into details about delays for a reason. Follow His lead.

  17. Rex, I agree with what you have written. Too many people use the “if it be Thy will” phrase in their prayers as a cover for their unbelief. The Lord connects this with James 1:6-7 where He tells us that unbelief will never get our prayers answered. When the answer doesn’t come the way the person asked for or when they expected the answer to come, then the assumption is that it wasn’t God’s will to say “yes”.

    This is so far from truth. God is sovereign, we don’t dictate to Him how or when He is to answer our prayers. The Word says in 1 Peter 5:6-7 to cast our cares on Him not to dictate how He will answer to address the care you gave to Him, and the timing about when the Lord will answer your request regarding the care you cast on Him.

    In my life, I have been dealing with health issues for a long time. Belief in the Lord’s ability to heal and desire to heal was answered a long time ago. I was at death’s door four different times and the Lord healed me each time. Therefore, praying in faith and believing in my heart regarding my confession is not an issue for me.

    There are reasons that the Lord delays the answer to our faith filled prayers. The Father is focused on forming Christ in us (Gal 4:19). The Father uses the hard things we encounter in our lives to form Christ on us. This is why the Apostle Paul in 2 Cor 12:9-10 says he would rather glory in his infirmities and weaknesses that the power and strength of Christ may rest on him.

    The Lord loves us so much and only wants the best for us. The problem is we have placed on the Lord our concept of love. If we love someone we can’t bear to see them suffering so we do all we can to relieve their suffering. We believe the Lord loves the same way; however, the New Testament is full of scriptures talking about suffering and enduring it. The delays to answered prayers have God’s greater purpose in mind rather than our focus of just getting out of the hard situation and suffering that we are in.

    I today am walking in a new level of experiencing the complete unconditional love of the Lord and a total rest and confidence in the sovereignty of the Lord because of the Father’s delay in answering my faith filled prayers for healing. I know beyond s shadow of a doubt that I would not be walking im the peace, love, rest and confidence I am now walking in had the Lord quickly answered my prayers for healing in the past. I would be blowing and going making lots of money and showing everyone how the Lord is blessing me. On the outside I would be looking really good; however, on the inside I would have a very surface level relationship with the Lord. However, the truth is my key heart desire is to know the Lord the same way that Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter knew the Lord.

    The Lord taught me that many times we pray different prayers that require the Lord to respond differently in order to answer those prayers. A prayer I have prayed for over 25 years is for the Lord to fulfill His complete perfect plan for my life. That I may know the Lord the same way that the Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter knew the Lord. I continually, fervently hunger, seek and pursue the Lord and His righteousness.

    The Father used the current health issues in my life to teach me about His love and His sovereignty. He is answering the deep cry of my heart. So did the Lord say “no” to my faith filled prayers for healing? He did not say “no”: He said wait so I can accomplish a greater work in you.

    In the past two days I have been to see the doctors who have been overseeing my care and both of them have declared me well regarding the symptoms they were treating me for. I am still walking out some additional areas of healing; yet, I am at rest in the sovereignty and timing of the Lord for the completed healing of these symptoms as well.

    I am interested in your thoughts regarding what I discussed in this comment. Specifically the area regarding us dictating:
    – How the Lord will answer our prayers.
    – When the Lord should answer our prayers.
    – Lastly how the Lord works regarding answering different prayer requests that would impact other prayer requests we have made (specifically how the Lord delayed healing the symptoms I am dealing with so He could answer the other prayer I pray regarding knew the Lord the same way that the Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter knew the Lord.)

    Thank you for reply and any referens ycyou have that address what I discussed in this comment.

  18. I am enjoying the articles you are posting.My faith is already rising.Thank you very much.God bless you

  19. God answers prayer differently from what we expect it to be, as He is greater than us. He sometimes gives us what we need and not what we want, but for being persistent (Luke 11:5-8), in my heart nothing is impossible to God, that is why I keep praying what is impossible for me.

  20. Thanks for your comments , Faith Mechanic. I much enjoyed reading your response….. God knows what we need and what is good for each one of us at any given time.. I do pray for what I think is good for me, but I have little faith in my own Knowledge of what is good for me. More important than that, I just keep my mind focused on HIM and His word and on doing his will also frequently giving thanks and praise, confident and believing that the outcomes are reliably in His hands whatever it may be. I even give thanks for the hardships He allows me to go through at times, because at such times I grow so much spiritually by having to lean even more on Him and focus even more on His word for strength. Whatever comes my way just serves my growth one way or another. Pray for me please, while I move towards a calling I strongly feel, to work with disadvantaged children in the orphanages in the country of my birth Jamaica,when I return to live there in 2015. Bless you..

  21. This is just an opinion. I think we can over-analyse about what the mind of God actually DOES after we pray. According to what I read in the God’s word faithless prayer goes nowhere, (and that makes sense)while prayers done in faith will be heard by God. Apart from that I will not venture to have an opinion on God’s thought processes. I just know that He is all seeing and all knowing so he sees beyond our prayers to what is good and best for us.. I prefer to just believe and have faith in the actual written words of God as spoken by Jesus and also in the opinions and commands which God put in the words of His prophets in the bible. I will not glory so much in my own opinions to the extent where I am going to split hairs pertaining to HOW God goes about His business after we pray.I just continue to pray, give thanks and praise.

    1. Author

      Marva – I totally agree with you. I think most of the speculation on what God does with our prayers has to do with explaining why they are not answered. I call them the Doctrines of Doubt.

      The aspect of God being all seeing and only wanting the best for us is taken into account when we receive the faith necessary for the answer. Faith comes when we hear the answer in our heart. Hearing the answer in our hear only comes after we meet the conditions of the promise AND it works with God’s overall best plan.

      Faith then, is both fool proof and totally compatible with God’s sovereignty. We must seek His word and seek Him but the faith comes on His timetable and as an unearned gift. Beautiful. Rex

  22. I have been praying about something for a while now. I believe God encouraged me to pray for it but some would feel it is impossible. Since it has been so long a time, just yesterday I did an internet search “how to tell if God is answering my prayers with a no”. I got all the answers that you mentioned above. None satisfied me. Then this morning I open my email and it is the exact thing I was asking for. God has answered my prayers again!.
    Also yesterday I was confused and torn and I prayed to him asking what word do I listen to. Obviously his word in the Bible but everyone preaches and interprets it so different when they preach. I asked him to help me. Not 20 mins later someone knocked at my door. I did not get it I was busy but looked outside after and there was a pamphlet about reading the Bible. That was my answer read the Bible his word. God is truly good. And the more faith I have the more he answers my prayers. You are correct and I will keep praying for what is thought impossible.

    1. Author

      Stephanie – I was real busy but I had a desire last night to write this, and issue it this morning. Apparently, God had me write this article just for you. Makes you feel kinda good all over doesn’t it? God is wonderful and He answers faith. Rex

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.