When the Answer is No…

Are you praying for something, and no matter how long you’ve been praying, or how sincere and passionate your prayers, God seems to say “No”?

How difficult is it to accept “No” as his answer?

I’ll confess, for me it’s really hard. It’s hard because the things I want God to do, give, or approve for me are good things. Things I believe with all my heart would be good for me, and for the people I’m praying for; otherwise why would I be asking for them? I would never ask for anything bad for anyone, let alone myself.

Is God denying me good things? happiness? joy? No, I know God is not like that. I know that God is good, that every good and perfect gift comes from God, I know that only in Jesus is my joy complete. So why does God sometimes say “No” to good things?

Could it be that God says “No” to my requests because he has perfectly designed and orchestrated my circumstances to show me what he has already said “Yes” to?

Our specific set of circumstances – the details of my life, and the details of yours, the situations in which we find ourselves, the predicaments, the hurts, the failures, the let-downs, the misunderstandings – have all been approved by God to help us seek, understand, and apply all of his “Yesses” to our lives.

No, that doesn’t mean God orchestrates evil, or anything like that; there is no darkness in him whatsoever. But, it does mean that he has allowed hard, or bad things, and he is using them to teach us more about who he is, and what he has already promised us.

Our lives, and the day to day circumstances of them, are the most gloriously drafted and outfitted institution of higher education that could possibly be imagined, in order to teach us all of the promises of God, and all of the ways in which he has said “Yes” to us.

Do you remember the excitement of the first day of school, the new crayons, pencils, desks, and a smiling teacher? Do you also recall how quickly you discovered that school wasn’t perfect, and neither were the people in your class?

We may have wanted to change things in school – the lunch menu, the seating chart, the teacher’s attitude – but even when we couldn’t, we still went to school. School was not optional.

We may not like the bitter taste that our circumstances leave behind, we may not like where we live or work, and we may not like the idea that the people in our lives are as imperfect as we are, but the details of our lives are the classroom in which God teaches us.

We may pray to change the circumstances, we may pray to change other people, we may pray for ease or comfort, but when God says, “No”, could it be it is because he wants us to learn how much better his “Yesses” are?

Confusing? Imagine if you are a parent, and your little one asks for ice-cream for dessert. When you say “No”, the child will probably be more than a little disappointed, until you tell the child that you have a better dessert in the pantry – one that they will be overwhelmingly happy to receive. You are teaching your child to trust you, and that you know what is best.

When God says “No” to us, I believe it is because he has a better plan in mind that he has already said “Yes” to. The wonderful thing is: God has not withheld, or hidden from us what his “Yes” promises are; and through them, he is teaching us that we can trust that he knows and does what is best.

We must read God’s Word to know what his promises are, and then we must pray in alignment with them. For example, when we ask God to remove the things that make us anxious, and he says “No”, could it be that it is because he has already promised to carry our anxiety, that we can trust him completely when we are afraid, and that he is more than able to meet every need.

When we have been mistreated and we pray for justice or vindication, and God says “No” – could it be it is because he has already promised to perfectly execute justice in his way, and in his time?

God has promised that we will never be alone, that he will never leave or forsake us. He has promised that we have all we need for success, and that he is our comfort in every hardship. He has promised us that our suffering is necessary, and that it is being used for our eternal good. These are only a handful of the many promises of God.

Is there anything we can ask that God has not already promised to take care of? I’ve yet to find anything; have you? God is sovereign over the universe, there is nothing that he is not aware of; nothing in your life or mine. It is easier for me to accept his “No”, when I am comforted by all of the things to which he has already said “Yes.”

However, do we stop praying every time it seems God is saying “No”? What if the answer is “not right now”? How do we know the difference? I’m not a theologian, but I think that if what we are praying for fully aligns with the promises of God that are already “Yes” – then we keep praying, because all God’s promises are “Yes” in Christ Jesus.

What are you praying for? If God says “No” – will you seek to discover his “Yes” in its place?
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Marcia’s book, 365 Days of Grace — is currently available on any of the following links:
WestBow Press

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