Trouble. Time to pray. It was a bad situation and getting worse. You prayed – earnestly, sincerely, agonizingly – you prayed . . . and then, it happened anyway.
Where was God in all that? Has anything ever happened to you that made you think God was against you?
We naturally feel the hard things we face are just another manifestation of God’s disapproval.
. . . and, when we pray, silence . . . or worse . . .
Often the very things we pray for or against result in the opposite outcome, don’t they? Is God ignoring you?
How is this happening? I prayed but God didn’t listen . . . wouldn’t hear the cries of my heart.
In moments like these Faith is in the fire, being refined . . . or, more often, being consumed. It’s easy to get the storms of life confused with the intentions of God.
I recently heard a deeply wounded man (he’s been a Christian for many years) say, “I just don’t believe in prayer any more.” What he was really saying was, “I wanted my life to turn out differently and since that didn’t happen, I have proof that prayer doesn’t work.”
It’s interesting how we Christians can get to a place where we believe God is real – we won’t question that one – but we convince ourselves that He isn’t interested in, or doesn’t care about, us. And how can we be blamed for that conclusion? If our assessment method is “prayer being answered the way we want” the evidence is pretty compelling.
Let’s be honest. For those who haven’t already given up on prayer, getting God to do what we want doesn’t happen that often, does it? Even the unselfish requests – God please don’t let my son die from cancer – God, please do a miracle and heal my daughter’s brain damage – seem to be ignored.
We pray and bad things happen anyway. It’s as if God says, “No” to what seems obviously best. But, when God says, “No” should we take “No” for an answer?
Do we have an option?
Yes, we do.
It comes down to where we are willing to place our trust . . . what we truly believe in the midst of the Storm. It comes down to Faith – to what we believe in our hearts when we cannot see with our eyes.
Faith isn’t needed in a life where every prayer is answered with an automatic “Yes!” If we always get what we want, trusting God is unnecessary.
Incidentally, what do you think of that child who always gets his way? Yeah . . . that kid nobody likes being around? He’s miserable and rebellious because his parents would rather give him what he wants than do what he needs.
That isn’t love. Love is doing what is best for the child – regardless of how the child feels about it.
And, God loves us. He is love, the Bible tells us in 1 John. Because He is a good Heavenly Father who truly loves us, He isn’t out for our ease. He’s out for our best. And when you’re the Dad, sometimes that means choices that hurt. As Humans in a fallen world, what is best for us is often on the far side of pain – through the valley of dark places.
Has God said “No” to you? Then don’t take ‘no’ for an answer because when God says “No” He’s really saying “Yes” to His best for you.
Will you choose Faith, today, and trust that in the midst of your pain and all the prayers you’ve sent heavenward, your Heavenly Father is a Good Father who knows how to give you what you need for His best in your life?
Yes, we have an enemy who does bad things. We see that in the Book of Job, where God allowed bad things to happen. But the bottom line, after the worst of the worst happened to Job, was, essentially: I AM GOD and you are not . . . trust . . . choose faith.
Whether or not prayer is “working” for you isn’t a matter of God doing what you think is best. It’s asking your loving Heavenly Father for what you desire and then yielding your heart in faith to what He knows is best – just like Jesus did in the garden . . .
Jesus “ . . . went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
In the moment, all pain seems purposeless. But it never is. God always has a purpose in our pain, including the pain of prayer that doesn’t result in what we desire.
This is why we shouldn’t take “No” for an answer when we pray. Remember every “No” is really God saying, “Yes”, to His best for you.
It’s not about “happy talk” and telling ourselves devastating things aren’t devastating. Jesus anguished in mental torment in the garden until He was drenched in sweat as he considered what He was about to experience (and prayed that it wouldn’t happen) – And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground ~ Luke 22:44.
God’s desire is that you and I grow in maturity and the path to maturity requires yielding to God’s best, even when it seems like the opposite. We do not see what God sees. We do not know what He knows. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts ~ Isaiah 55:9
Will you trust Him in prayer with your deepest desires . . . will you choose faith and believe that, whatever the outcome of your prayer, it’s always a “Yes” to God’s best for you?
Matt is married to Lisa Jacobson; they are raising their eight children in the Pacific Northwest. Matthew is an author, speaker, blogger, and pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship. Matthew and Lisa are also the authors of the best-selling “his-and-her” marriage books, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife.