Prayer is a precious privilege and oft times it goes unanswered. Perhaps, like many, we think God is not listening to us or that He just doesn’t care. However, like the Garth Brooks song goes, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”. It is not our will that should be done, but God’s Will. We all need to remember, that God has our best interest in mind when He hears our prayers, and we need to accept that God’s wisdom and knowledge far exceeds that of our own. Just like you tell you children not to eat candy before a meal for their own good, even so, God tells us no for our own good when we ask for things we do not need. When God says, “No,” The Christian must remember:
God will do right. “He is . . . a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4). One may not see, he may not understand, but God will do right. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:24)
God’s ways are not ours. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8,9). God sees the beginning from the end. Nothing is hidden from him. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Ps. 139:6).
Prayer has a chief purpose. Prayer should not be an attempt to manipulate the will of God. “Not my will, but Thine be done,” the suffering Savior cried. But when God says, “no,” we often forget that fact and complain in effect, “not Thy will but mine be done. ” Perhaps the supreme purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will for our lives, our wants, our needs, our desires.
When Does God Say No?
Sin is in the heart. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12).
One’s attitude is unforgiving. “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye may receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mk. 11:24-26).
“We ask amiss. ” You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your own lusts” (Jam. 4:3).
We ask without faith. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea. . . For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (Jam. 1:6,7).
Our family life is ungodly. “Likewise, you husbands, . . . giving honor unto the wife, . . . that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7).
God said no to Moses. “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land…. But the Lord … would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter” (Deut. 3:35,26).
God said no to Israel. “And you returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give car unto you” (Deut. 1:45).
God said no to Paul. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
Finally, Job of old bore the lashes of unparalleled human calamity and agony and torture of mind, body and soul. His faithfulness and steadfast endurance has blessed thirty centuries of sorrowing humanity. Stephen and James met untimely, violent deaths (Acts 7,12). They died when we would have had them to live. By their suffering and death, the early disciples were shown the power of the new faith, that men could die and yet live in victory. Hence, multiplied millions have been emboldened and have accepted torture and death rather than denounce their faith and hope of eternal life.
Deliverance came. No, not to Stephen and James, nor to suffering servants of like precious faith, but it came in unquenchable hope, in the hope that makes not ashamed. It came through him that is able to deliver us who through fear of death are subject to bondage. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
Conclusion: No, we may never comprehend in this present life why God rejects our prayers. We may never understand why we are made to suffer when the world goes free. However, God fully understands that the goal in this life is not to win this present life but our life to come. So, if a man dies young in the Lord, this is precious in God’s eyes. If a man of God is so sickly that he can’t even think about sin, this is good in God’s eyes. If a godly man is so poor that he can’t afford the wickedness of this world, God sees value in our depravity. We don’t know what we should pray for and for this reason the Spirit makes intercession for us (Rom 8:26). So, let us not fly in the face of God and accuse Him of not caring for us, for we know we can cast our cares upon Him and he will bear them (1 Pet 5:7). Therefore, keep in mind when you are praying to God to always keep in your heart: “Your will be done”, because only a prayer asked according to His Will, will be done.