Why does God not answer prayers?
He does answer them, just not always how we like or in ways we expect. We must understand that God is not a magic wish granting genie, He is the creator of the universe. As such He does as He wills, for reasons that are His own and will give us things that are beyond our petty wants. That said there are some verses from the Sermon on the Mount that are relevant.
Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
So what does God give us when we pray, if he says we should not lay up treasures on earth, but also gives to everyone who asks, isn’t that contradictory? Not in the least, for what God gives us are the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
He also gives to us the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22,23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
These are the treasures God gives us, things that will not be stolen or rust away, we will not become bored with them and they are all there ready and waiting, all anyone needs to do is ask for them and they will be given.
God answers prayers with quality and not quantity, he gives us things that draw us closer to him and not things that drive us further into the arms of the world.
The purpose of prayer is first a moral purification, the cleansing of sin from the soul, then knowledge of God, a deepening of the relationship between us and God and third, a perfect union with God.
What prayer is not about is getting things, like rubbing a magic lamp. If you treat both God and prayer to him like that, you will get disappointment or worse.
How has your prayer life brought you closer to God, have you asked the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray?