You have a request. You take it before the Almighty in desperation and in trust, for you go to Him because He is able to do immeasurably more than all that you can ask or imagine. When your request is answered in the affirmative you know exactly what to do. You thank God for hearing your prayer and for granting your request. When your request is answered in the negative, though, you are not sure what to do. Should you ask why? Should you let discouragement settle in? Should you doubt whether or not God has your back at all?
If you at all pray then you have experienced God saying no. Sometimes God says not yet, but to us that means no. Sometimes God does in fact say no.
So, what should you do when God says no?
What kind of perspective should you have when your prayers are answered with the biggest two letter word known in the English language?
My hope in this post is to use broad strokes as this topic deserves a lot more than what I will be able to offer in a blog post. Hopefully, though, you will be able to gather a healthy perspective on the topic at hand. Without further ado, let’s do this.
Sometimes God Says No Because He Has Something Better In Mind
In John 11 Jesus is presented with an opportunity to heal his good friend, Lazarus. I recommend reading this whole chapter to see the entire account. In the meantime, I’ll give you some bullet points of the chapter.
- Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) come to Jesus asking him to heal their sick brother.
- Jesus does nothing for two days.
- Jesus decides to go to Bethany to see Lazarus. By this time, Lazarus has been dead for 4 days.
- Jesus resurrects Lazarus from the dead.
- Many Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah because of this miracle.
Jesus initially said no to what Mary and Martha asked him to do. He had something better in mind. Instead of healing of sickness, he had resurrecting from the dead in mind. Pretty cool.
God Doesn’t Always Answer With A Yes Because Many Times We Don’t Know What Is Best
When Jesus came on the scene, the Jews had been praying for a deliverer. They were sick of being oppressed by the Roman Empire and were ready to be back to their glory days like when King David ruled. They were asking for the Messiah to be King like David, but God gave them Jesus.
Unfortunately, sometimes we ask God to do something that would be less than best for us, others, or his Kingdom. The Jews wanted deliverance in a physical way and yet God gave them what was best for them, spiritual deliverance.
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God Works Out All Things For Good For Those Who Love Him
I went into much more detail on this promise from Romans 8:28 in a previous post entitled, “Do All Things Work Together For My Good If I Love God?” The promise that is within this verse should contribute greatly to how we understand God’s purposes when he says no. In the end, God works out everything for the good for those who love him.
God’s Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
To claim to know the mind of God is… Well, impossible. Sure, we can know what he has told us through his Word. God works from the perspective of eternity. We work from the perspective of a tiny sliver of time. When we can re-orient our perspective to understand this, we can respond to God’s no with contentment because he must have something different in mind and that should be reassuring.
What To Do When God Says No?
First, love God above everything else including what you are praying for. When we go to God in prayer asking him to do something, we are asking him because we know that he has the power to grant that request. The problem comes in when he says no and we react with contempt. When we want God to say yes to our requests more than we want to say yes to God and what he wants, we are engaging in idolatry.
Second, trust that God knows what is best in every situation. When you put your trust fully in the hands of the Almighty, you will be overwhelmed with contentment and peace.