When You Pray to God, Don’t Take “No” for an Answer

When You Pray to God, Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
September 16, 2016 Matthew L. Jacobson


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?

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11 Comments

  1. Bill P 2 months ago

    Great understanding article on hearing NO and later experiencing YES. I am always grateful for the YES, yet continually frustrated with NO. This helps the NO feeling and I continually pray for accepting the NO, and waiting on YES. I call it my inside Jonah. He kept NO in front of Him for all the trials he went through, until his YES was experienced.

    Thanks Matt!!

  2. Wade Sievers 3 months ago

    My wife and I read The books to each other and vowed to do what it said,to make a habit of putting the other one first.its been four months and we are growing closer to each other and to GOD.thank you for the books.God bless.

  3. ROBYN JOHNSON 1 year ago

    God answers every prayer of the believing, obedient heart. (Proverbs). The answer can be ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Wait’. I believe that He gets a lot of blame for not answering prayer because the petitioner lives in sin and rebellion, only acknowledges God in emergencies, and has no comprehension of the qualifications necessary to enjoy the privilege of – not right to- prayer. The Scriptures are replete with instruction and admonition; we just tend to ignore the ‘hard stuff’ and cling to the ‘fluffy stuff’ and trust that God will, ultimately, grade on the curve and we’ll all be blessed and happy because we asked for it.

    • Author

      If you read the article, you’ll see that the point is even what we take for a “no” is God saying “Yes!” to His best for us. It’s an encouragement to see God’s answer, whatever it may be, as His positive best for us.

      • Scott Brooks 5 months ago

        Exactly! Just like the Whisnants’ song, “A Greater Yes,” “While you’re waiting and believing
        For what you thought was best
        Trust God if He says no…. You’re still blessed
        There must be a greater yes”

        Being new to your site, when I saw the title of your post, I thought, “Oh no, what’s this going to be?” because I’ve heard enough of the teaching about “pinging” on God until he gives us what we want — the Cosmic Candy Machine Syndrome. But I am ecstatic to see the twist and the hook in the title. You, sir (and brother), are absolutely correct! He is God. And I am not.

        One Biblical iIllustration that has always helped me in those times is the extension of Hezekiah’s life. The worst days of his life were the “extra” 15 years God granted him after he begged for more time. How much difficulty in Israel could have been avoided (or at least delayed), had Hezekiah simply accepted God’s announcement as a great blessing enabling him to put things in order before going home to be with his Father! But because he judged according to the flesh, rather than trusting God, great problems arose.

        The single most important statement in the Model Prayer (taking nothing away from any of the rest!) is, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.” That’s “perfectly.” When we are that submitted, it’s all good, even when it’s excruciating.

        God bless, brother. Keep up the GREAT work!

  4. Cj 1 year ago

    I know God has His best for me, its just so hard when you keep begging Him to take away the pain, take heartache, take away the loneliness & you get NO relief. Its hard to to have faith when you’re struggling to stay afloat. I need God’s help today. I know it might not be the best time to fix my situation & i’m ok with that but i need Him to get me through it b/c i’m really struggling. I want to live & not survive. I deserve better & so do my kids. I keep asking for more of God but all i get is silence?

    • Scott Brooks 5 months ago

      It might be helpful to spend some time studying Hannah. God did not grant her desire until she made peace with her present reality and with His wisdom. Sometimes we tell ourselves we are submitted to His will for our lives, but we find ourselves still struggling to be truly at peace with our present circumstances. God wants our trust. And if we understand who we truly are, there is no circumstance of life that is not better than what we truly deserve.

      Phil. 4:6,7, says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” There are some fundamental prerequisites to that peace we are looking for: faith, communication of our desires as well as (perceived) urgent needs, and gratitude for all that our Father is to us and has done for us. The promise is not that we will receive what we ask for; it is that He will give us peace when we commit those things to His trust. Peace is possible, even in trying circumstances.

  5. Jeannie 1 year ago

    I think I’ll print this one out. It’s a good encouragement that a prayer not answered our way isn’t an unanswered prayer! Thank you.

  6. Rebecca L Jones 1 year ago

    I believe Jesus paid the ultimate price, and since God answers with yes and amen, we just give in to the enemy’s lies, peer pressure or the waiting. We could all use deeper prayer lives, I would like to see Him do the impossible.

    • Joyce 4 months ago

      I agree with Rebecca. I won’t take no for an answer if God’s Word says yes!

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