To listen to Nancy’s answer recorded on Moody Radio, click here.
When God says no, I think we should celebrate. Not pout, not get mad, not demand our own way (which we won’t get anyway) not get bitter, but celebrate. Why? Because God always wants the best for me. He is full of wisdom and grace. He is faithful, holy, loving and sovereign. The true Christian does not desire those things that do not bring God the glory so, when God says “yes” or “no” to our prayer, we can know that it is His will. God’s “yes” answers can build our faith and confidence in God. As a parent, I do love to say yes to my kids. However, I can see from a long-term adult perspective that children cannot see and saying “no” or “not yet” is the best for them even though they would not see it that way. The same is true with God.
David pleaded with the Lord for the life of his and Bathsheba’s infant son. He fasted and prayed but his son died. God said “no” and David responded in a way that is a good model for all of us. He accepted what God had done as right and good.
“Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him and he ate.” (2 Samuel 12:20)
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him,” (1 John 5:14-15)
In the New Testament, we have more examples of where Paul wanted to continue traveling and preaching throughout Asia and God said “no.” Paul thought he knew what God wanted, but he continued to listen and obey what the Lord said and in the end, Europe was eventually opened to him.
“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” (Acts 16:6-9)
When I, in my soul, can be content that God’s ways are always better than my own, then my life becomes full and I no longer fear the hard things in life because I know the One who allowed them. God is God and man is not God, so why should we ever demand our own way? I am so grateful to God for not answering many of my prayers because in hindsight it has saved me much pain and suffering.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ . . . What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” (Isaiah 46:9–11)
“No” to the immature believer who does not get his prayers answered as he expected often provides an excuse to abandon his faith in God and to think that God does not care about us and the pain the we have to endure. “God didn’t heal my baby.” “God didn’t save my marriage.” “God didn’t give me that job I needed.” God is not Santa. He is not obligated to grant us our wishes nor perform for us as we hope. It is in these moments God builds into our faith perseverance and wisdom.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, or you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:1-5).
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)