When The Answer Is No

Earlier in the week I met with a group of friends when the conversation turned to prayer.  We began to discuss various aspects of prayer, especially requests to God that did not get answered according to what we asked.  We’ve all experienced those moments in life when we desire something so strongly that we beg God to make it happen.

There are those who will bargain with God, promising never to ask for another thing if just this one request will be met.  Of course, that’s assuming that we are troubling and annoying God with our pleas.  Our loving heavenly Father loves it when we come to Him with those things that concern us.  We don’t have to make a promise of never bothering Him again.  We are always welcome to come to Him.

Then there will be those who turn away from God altogether when what they ask  for does not come to them.  Their anger and disappointment pushes them away from the One who only answers out of His vast love.  As a Father, there will be times when He says “yes” to what we ask.  He knows that receiving what we ask will indeed bring about great joy.  Equally, there will be times when He says “no.”  He knows that receiving what we ask will bring trouble our way or that what we ask will not bring about the greatest joy.  At other times He will answer “wait.”  Waiting is rarely an easy thing for any of  us.  It’s like a child waiting for Christmas, hoping  that what they have desired will indeed be under the tree.  Even so, there are times when He will answer “wait” because receiving at a later time will bring about the greatest joy.

Our Heavenly Father is vastly concerned with your happiness.  Jesus begins His famous Sermon On The Mount with instruction on how to be happy.  Of course, in the Beatitudes or the Happy-tudes, He is addressing things in our spiritual worlds, but being spiritually happy spills over into our physical worlds and brings contentment in all things — the good and the difficult.

When we pay attention to our spiritual health, we then find that our emotional strength is stronger, our peace is unshattered, and our faith in our Father’s ways is secure.  When we pay attention to our spiritual self, asking the Holy Spirit to speak into our hearts, then we are ready for His answers to our prayers.  We will have a growing love and trust in our own hearts that allows Him to do as He sees best with our lives.  To live in such a manner is out of this world.  Ponder the following, a prayer of Jesus to His Father, concerning us:

“”I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.  They do not belong to this world anymore than I do.  Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your Word, which is truth.  Just as You sent me into the world,  I am sending them into the world.  And I give Myself as a sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth.”  John 17:15-19


Beyond Our Biggest Dreams

When we want something so badly that we feel we will burst if it doesn’t happen, the disappointment of it not coming to pass can be deep and lasting.  It’s hard when dreams are dashed and hopes for some achievement slips away.  Perhaps we pray like never before, begging God to “pleeeeeeease let this happen or give me this particular something.”  We try to whip up faith, unwittingly attempting to impress God on the magnitude of that faith, in order that He will surely do as we ask.  Ever felt that way or behaved that way?  I have a sneaky feeling that we have all tried to outmaneuver God on the “ask and you will receive” promise.

We certainly can ask and receive.  It is a promise of God, but never forget, what we receive is always in accordance with His will for our lives, and His will for our lives, is always for our very best.  Therefore, sometimes when we ask for something, with all the faith in the world, God says, “No.”  King David had such an experience.  It is recorded in the Old Testament in II Samuel.

David had been richly blessed by God.  He had been a great warrior and became the King of Israel.  He fought and defeated the Philistines, retrieved the Ark of the Covenant and returned it to Jerusalem.  It bothered David that there was no proper home for the Ark.  The Ark of God’s presence was a mere tent.

Therefore, David desired to build a temple in which to house the Ark.  His intentions came out of love; they were honorable.  In David’s gratitude he wanted to build a beautiful temple; more beautiful that any tent — but God said, “No.”  David’s yearning to build a temple was strong.  Therefore, imagine the depth of disappointment when God forbid him to carry out his dream.

It was a good dream.  Why wouldn’t God say yes to a good dream, especially when the motivation was love and thankfulness?  There are many things we do not understand concerning the plans and methods of God.  Sometimes, as we mature and learn more about Him, we begin to comprehend some of His ways.  At other times, we have to accept that we may not fully grasp the ‘why’ of something until we get to heaven.

In David’s situation, he would come to appreciate God’s reasons with time.  You see, David had been a warrior, shedding blood, and no one who had shed blood could build a temple to God.  It was in God’s will that David be a warrior.  We all have different functions, and when appointed by God, they are all honorable and needed.  While David was equipped by God to be a warrior and a king, he was not equipped by God to build a temple.

Even so, with time, David would come to understand and he would be filled with tremendous joy, recognizing that, yes, God’s ways are always the best ways.  You see, first of all, God chose David’s son, Solomon, to build the temple.  Aren’t you who are parents, thrilled to bits when your children get to accomplish things that you never could?  Imagine David’s pride in his son.  Second, it was in God’s plan that David would write Psalms, and unlike the temple, the Psalms would last for eternity.

David had a dream.  God said,  “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'”    Isaiah 55:8-9