When God Says No
Children aren’t great at knowing what they need. It often comes out in cries, tantrums, or requests for more candy. Smart parents know at that moment the very thing that they need is what they are fighting against. It’s the basic need vs. want dilemma, and something we also struggle with as adults. We ask for a lot. Most of our prayers, in fact, are asking God for something. There’s nothing wrong with that - after all, He is a good Father. He loves us and wants us to have an abundant life. But like any decent dad handling that volume of requests, there are bound to be a good number of no’s.
"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!" Matthew 7:9-11
I’ve always struggled reading that verse, because it just doesn’t prove true in my life. I’ve asked for my fair share of bread, but I find myself holding a basket full of stones. Anyone with me on that? Do you feel like you’ve been asking God for what you need and He’s said no? It’s frustrating, confusing, and endangers your intimacy with the Father. It can push you to the brink of faith, holding onto a thread while you’re swirling in a whirlpool of doubt. Why would that verse be in scripture if it’s just not true? Or is just not true for me? Here’s the Truth, Beloved - when God says no, ask Him to prepare you for the yes. It is counterintuitive, because it requires a lot of faith. Assurance of what you don’t see. When a loving parent says no to a child, it’s because they see a bigger picture. They know that the child needs a good rest and healthy meal before they get that piece of candy they’re asking for.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of God’s no’s are actually not yet’s. The things that we ask for are often good things. Things we want because of a deeper need. The problem is, our world spins fast and leaves us with little time to dig deep in our prayers and we are left with a few minutes to address what's most troubling us. The deep needs that plague us bubble up into immediate wants. We want health, wealth and success. We need intimacy with God. We want relationship, comfort and happiness. We need love, peace and joy. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and can see through our wants to our needs. God knows the ripple effects and consequences of each request, things we are blind to in our asking. It’s not as simple as that though, because the will of God is multidimensional. He’s not a strict Father that is all work and no play. He delights in you, rejoices over you, and He loves you with a love so vast and intense it cannot be grasped. He desires for you to have all your needs and wants - but, He will prioritize for you.
When our prayers come into line with His will, much is accomplished. He can absolutely make it happen without your prayers, but He delights in partnering with you. He loves the conversation, the intimacy, the relationship that is grown through a powerful prayer partnership. So let’s dig deeper in our prayer requests. Instead of demanding a certain type of bread and describing exactly how it should look, just tell Him how hungry you are. Describe your needs and let Him meet your wants. If what you are asking for is in line with the Word of God - if it doesn't harm anyone and has some benefit to you - be confident that you are asking is in line with His will. If He says no, ask Him to prepare you for a yes. If you ask God to meet your need of relationship, and that prayer goes unanswered, it might be because He needs to do some work in you before that relationship is born. If you ask God to bring you financial gain or material goods, and that prayer goes unanswered, it might be because He wants to prepare you for stewardship. If you ask God for breakthrough in an area of your life, and that prayer goes unanswered, ask Him to prepare you to give Him glory when the breakthrough comes. His timing is perfect, and your faith in Him while you wait will bring Him joy. Present your needs and put no conditions on how He must fill them.
Abraham & Sarah were given a promise from God that went unfulfilled for decades. They doubted, as any of us would, but God never waivered from that promise. He was preparing the ground, preparing the hearts and waiting for the perfect time to release the blessing. Those things you're asking for - you can trust Him with them. Your trust is really the greatest gift you can give Him. And you will find that the more you align your requests with His will, the less your immediate wants will plaque you. You may find your prayer request list getting shorter and shorter while the time you spend in conversation with your good Father gets longer and longer.