When God Says “No”

God always hears our prayers, but what happens when He doesn’t give us an immediate, resounding “yes”?

Perhaps you’ve prayed for a specific job, a future spouse, or even a ministry position, and God hasn’t given you the answer you wanted to hear. Even if you long for something with all your heart, God may direct your path differently than you wanted.

When we pray, we need to remember that God’s timing is different from our own. While we may long to leap ahead, God may tell us to wait. After all, His timing is perfect, and ours is not. Waiting is not the same answer as a “no”; it is an invitation to surrender plans to our sovereign God.

Sometimes, however, God simply tells us “no.” This is often because we create inferior plans for ourselves, even though they might seem good to us. This answer can test our faith, but we need to remember that God’s plans are perfect. He is not like a slot machine that gives us exactly what we ask for. He gives us negative answers for a reason.

Reasons for Receiving a “No”

Although we may not gain insight into the “no” this side of eternity, we can still try to discern why God gave us this answer. Some potential reasons are as follows:

  1. Wrong motives (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  2. Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18)
  3. An unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25)
  4. Trying to impress others (Matthew 6:5)
  5. Lack of faith (James 1:6–7)
  6. Disobedience to God (1 John 3:21–22)
  7. Stinginess in giving (Proverbs 21:13)
  8. Improper treatment of spouse (1 Peter 3:7)
  9. Idolatry (Ezekiel 14:3)
  10. Not abiding in Christ (John 15:7)

Whenever we receive “no” as an answer, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for help in examining our hearts. After all,  these reasons affect our relationship with God and with others.

But at the end of the day, God’s “no” may not be for any of these reasons. His plans are perfect, even when we cannot understand them. Receiving a “no” for an answer ought to drive us to rest in God. We need to come to the end of our own resources and realize our dependence on God.

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Want to go deeper in your prayers? Check out Ken’s Think on These Things: Perspectives on Prayer.

Interested in learning about Ken’s Friday Morning Men’s Study? Click here for more information.

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