When God Says “No” – Part 2

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.” (2 Corinthians 12:8a NLT)

In yesterday’s post we looked at why God answered Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane “no.” Today we’ll look briefly at how God answered the Apostle Paul’s request for physical healing, using his experience as a springboard into why He sometimes answers our prayers with a “no.”

Paul had a physical issue, that I personally believe, had to do with his eyes. If for no other reason, I draw that conclusion from the fact that his “letters” comprise nearly two thirds of the New Testament. Why would he have someone else write the letters, then “sign” them with an oversized signature? That’s a discussion for another day, that’s just my opinion.

Regardless of what his condition was, he “begged” God on at least three occasions “to take it away,” yet God didn’t heal him. Instead, God said: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”  What can we learn from Paul’s dilemma?

“Walk Humbly” – Tess Shoemaker “Used by permission, © Ray Majoran, GlimpseOfInfinity.com

My conviction when I pray and ask God for answers is two-fold: First, if what I’m asking is not in line with His will, I don’t want it. And, secondly, if God can’t trust me to have whatever it is I’m asking Him to give me, I don’t want it. I’ve come to realize, as Paul did, that God’s will is best period!

So, how does Paul’s negative answer apply to our prayers? Why does God sometimes say “no?” One thing as we start is, God will never say “no” to something that is in line with His will. He may delay His response until other things are in place, but He will never deny a request that’s prayed in accordance with His will. But understand, there are some prayers that God is prevented from answering. How so?

We know that it’s always God’s will for people to be saved, to come to faith in Jesus. These requests fill my prayers every day. However, if a person is adamant that they will not yield their life to Christ, God will not override their resistance or force them to become a believer. The father in the story of the “prodigal son” in Luke 15 watched for the return of his son and opened his arms to him when he chose to return, but he didn’t go in search of him.

It’s always our responsibility to come to God in response to all He’s done for us. His Holy Spirit will draw us and create circumstances that will point us to God, but He will never make us come to Him against our will.

Otherwise, here are some (not all) reasons God will answer “no” to our prayers.

  • If, like the Apostle Paul, God has concern that our pride will get in the way of His use of us. Paul was a brilliant and capable man. And, like many today, he could easily have mistaken God’s activity in and through him, for his own strength and ability. God’s desire is that we become willing vessels through whom He can flow to do work that in and of ourselves could never be accomplished. That’s why it’s called “faith.”
  • If whatever we’re asking is not in our best interests. I’ve begged God for things He didn’t give me, but over time I realized it would have been a big mistake for me to have gotten that for which I was praying. (i.e. that relationship, that job, that material possession, etc.)
  • If it’s clearly (to God) not in line with His will. The best way to know if something is or isn’t in line with God’s will is to read and study the Bible (God’s Word). There are some things that are clearly wrong and would not be God’s will for us. I never have to pray for what kind of car I should steal; whose money I should seek to fraudulently obtain; who I should kidnap, kill, with whom I should commit adultery or fornication; live with out of marriage; etc.). These are all things clearly taught in Scripture to be displeasing and dishonoring to the Lord.

There are others, but hopefully that will point you to Scripture to help you better understand why God sometimes must tell us “No” when we pray.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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