When God says “no” to our requests, there is always a greater “yes” that He’s advancing for us.
Do you believe this to be true?
We pray but then we get distracted when God answers our prayer, perhaps in a different way than we expected.
Or we pray for something else, and things appear to worsen. What is God doing in these instances?
Does He hear us? Does He care? The answer to both questions is “yes.’
If that’s true, then we might ask, “Why would He not grant our requests in exactly the way we asked Him or in a swift and obvious way?”
Well, He’s growing us, for starters.
We need growth in our relationship with Him. This is far more valuable than the answer to anything about which we may be praying.
He’s also building our faith in Him through the trials of life.
And He’s always giving us something better than that for which we asked… even when it doesn’t seem better from our finite perspective. We may be asking for things of copper, figuratively speaking, when He grants us things of finest gold!
I’m comforted by this thought when my prayers seem to go unanswered by God.
God hears all of the prayers of His redeemed people. He loves His sheep. And like a good father, He doesn’t give us bad things even when they are earnestly sought and desired by His short-sighted children.
You recall what Jesus said in Matthew 7:9-11…
“…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
11 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!”
Do you see what our Lord is saying here? God always gives good things to His children. This is true even when our prayer for something that we think to be good is not granted in the way that we had hoped.
It’s not that our prayers are always unreasonable. We are often asking for very good things. But there are far too many factors involved for us to understand every reason for the way an infinite God responds to the prayers of His people.
“No” is a perfectly good and loving answer to the often misguided requests of a finite creature. But here’s the hard thing: “no” is sometimes the best answer to some of our most noble and heartfelt requests as well.
“No” is often the most loving answer to some of my prayers. And other times, what feels like a “no” is in reality a “not yet” or a “not in that way” kind of response.
There are many times when I must say “no” to my children. It is good and loving for me to deny certain requests that would lead to their harm or would endanger them in some way. We understand those denials.
I think in a figuarative sense, there have been times in my prayers that I have unknowingly asked God for stones, but in His love He has given me the bread I really need. Or I have ignorantly asked Him for what amounts to a snake, but He has lovingly given me the fish I need instead.
We do the same thing with our children because we love them.
I must sometimes say “no” to my children when a request doesn’t promote the greater good of the family or otherwise increases the likelihood of unintended consequences.
It is the relationship between the giver and the receiver that determines how we deal with those kinds of denials.
Do we really trust that God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift? We when trust Him, it flavors and seasons the way we pray.
So as we pray to God and don’t see Him answering some of our prayers in the way that we might wish, bear in mind that He never denies us any good thing. He always promotes that which is superior and best for our greatest good forever.
And this is very good news for us.