I hear a lot of people talk about God not answering prayer. They pray and pray and when it doesn’t happen, they equate that with God not answering a prayer. While many people that pray acknowledge while praying that a no is possible, they don’t even remotely consider that no was the answer.
Some of this can be contributed to the name it and claim culture that has grown up around the church. In my own personal experience, I’ve been told that the great break through or request was just a few more prayers or years of prayers away and that I only didn’t get what I asked because I didn’t have enough faith.
This isn’t a discussion of doctrine or theology, just my own personal experience and revelation of who God is, what prayer does, and how he responds to it. So with that being said, here is a statement that is hard for even the most devout Christian to grasp:
God says no because he knows best.
The second thing I want you to put in your mind as you finish reading this is that God is sovereign and that nothing happens outside of what he allows. “Even the bad things?” Just because God allows something to exist, doesn’t mean he condones it. That should be pretty easy for us as humans to understand. We give a free pass to people all the time. We rationalize why we can be OK with someone doing something that we don’t approve of. Often times we come to the conclusion that the consequence of their actions will get the best of them.
You can still be a good person and let someone to make a bad choice. God can still be Holy and good and allow people to make bad and even destructive choices. But I digress.
About September of 2019, before all this crazy COVID stuff turned our world upside down, I began to get restless and, admittedly, bored with my job. I started looking around, submitting resumes, and going on interviews. One job seemed perfect. They were going to offer me a position where I could rebuild their school age/after school program from scratch. What an answer to prayer right? It would even be at a higher pay! Wow! God is good.
At least, that’s what many Christians would say. Look at the opportunity God set before you. In hindsight, I can say that God allowed that opportunity to present itself as attractive even though it was not in his will that I should take it. In fact, I didn’t. Thankfully God gave me a wife that had some words of wisdom and looked at things more long term. It had nothing to do with Covid 19 but other financial and logistic issues that would have come up. Ultimately, she left it up to me, but in my heart, in my spirit, there was never a peace about it.
So I stuck with my current employer wondering why it seemed that God didn’t answer my prayer for discernment and the peace to take that other job. Why did he want me to stay here (even though I did say in my prayer that I was OK with it if his will was to stay where I was).
- God said No. Because he knew what was coming. Covid didn’t surprise him, but it did surprise many in the child care/after school industry. And that place I could have gotten a job? If I had taken it, I would be out of one today. God said NO because he knew what was coming.
- God will put your words to the test. I had said “Lord, if you want me to stay where I am, then I am willing.” But was I? I was about to find out. Turns out I didn’t mean that at first.
When I said “I will stay here if that’s in your will”, I was trying to deal with God. I think that we can all admit we do a little bit of this. “Well I really want this but I know your will might be this so I will give it lipservice.” And so in his No, he tested my resolve. And at first, I failed miserably (no surprise, we all do sometimes). I was angry at first. How dare God dangle an opportunity like that and not give me more of a reason to take that job. Now I am stuck here…
And then it happened. Not only did my current employer give me a pay bump, but then Covid 19 showed up and turned the industry into something foreign overnight. So many of our competitors closed and we nearly had too. One of them was the place that had seemed like such a good opportunity. It remains shuttered, even as Texas has reopened most centers, albeit, with limited ratios. Still, while many that did close around them did open, this once bright opportunity for me remains dark and closed.
God says no sometimes. We can try to rationalize why God doesn’t answer or try to give just a little more faith, but ultimately, God wants us to trust in his ways. See, when Jesus said that we should pray in his name and that he would give us the desires of our hearts, he was talking about people who abide in him. When we do this, our desires become his desires and as such, there would be no question as to what God’s will is.
Now, does God still grant requests? Yes. Does he still answer prayers, even some of those filled with demands? Yes. But God does everything for his glory. Never should an answer to prayer be about how bold our faith was, but how loving and gracious and merciful and GREAT God was. That is his purpose for doing what he does. God loves us and wants what is great for us, defined by his definition of Greatness which is of course, himself. And through that love, he manifests his Glory.
I am more grateful for this no than many of the “yeses” that God has given me recently. I rejoice in this “NO” because it revealed God in his infinite wisdom. Thank you Lord for saying no.