God speaks often about persistence in prayer, asking until we receive, and trusting he hears and will respond. But, apparently, there are times when we need to stop storming the gates of heaven for an answer we want desperately. Sometimes God simply says “no”.
If that’s happened to you, you’re in good company. Moses had that experience when he pleaded with God to let him go over with the people into the promised land and God said: “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter” (Deuteronomy 3:26b). In other words, “Stop asking me, Moses. I already told you ‘no'”.
Paul had something similar happen when he prayed three times for his physical problem to be taken away. God didn’t answer the prayer the way Paul had hoped, but he did promise that his grace would see Paul through the difficulty.
If Moses and Paul, amazing saints, didn’t always get “yesses” to their prayers, we realize that sometimes we, too, have to accept “no” as an answer! When that happens, what do we do?
- We stop repeating a prayer we know God has already said “no” to.
- We don’t protest.
- We persevere, asking for faith to rely on him to be with us in the difficult circumstance.
- We acknowledge, as Paul did, that human weakness can be an avenue through which God displays his power – in ways we couldn’t even think to pray about.
- We keep on loving, trusting, and worshiping God.
And then, at some point, we’ll find that God’s “no” was a great blessing!
“God’s refusals are always merciful – ‘severe mercies’ at times – but mercies all the same. God never denies us our heart’s desire except to give us something better.” – Elisabeth Elliot