When God Says No

” . . . even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So, to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NLT

In order to receive answers to our prayers, we, first of all, must pray. But we must pray, understanding that we may not always receive the answer we desire. Even though God wants us to bring every request to Him, it does not mean that He will give us everything for which we ask. God wants to know the desires of our hearts. He wants us to have fellowship with Him through prayer. He wants us to seek Him for wisdom and direction. Yet there will still be times when we are in the will of God, we pray about something, and God responds with a “no.”

The apostle Paul is a prime example of bringing a legitimate request to God and receiving “no” for an answer. Paul said he was given a thorn in his side. It may have been a broken relationship that was bothering him, a physical ailment, or any number of other things. He never tells us what that thorn in the flesh is, but we do know that Paul went to God three times about this situation.

Sometimes, when God says “no,” we misdirect blame to try and explain why. We may never know the answer, like Paul never knew the reason for God’s “no” to him. Receiving a “no” from God can cause some people to get angry with God, especially if they feel they have been serving Him correctly for a long time and are in His will. Sometimes the devil plays tricks on a person to make him think that past sin is preventing him from getting a “yes” from God.

Paul, a reformed terrorist, dedicated his life to spreading the gospel and faced imprisonment and threats for being a follower of the Way. Consider the scenario of completely turning your life around and solely living for God, only to receive a “no” from Him. How many of us can stay committed when we don’t get the desired answer or the “yes” we believe we deserve? Do we continue to bless the Lord at all times, or do we become bitter?

No one knows the mind of God. What this passage teaches us is that being in God’s will does not guarantee us a life free from hardship. Being a good person does not mean we will not have bad experiences. Serving and living for God does not mean we get an automatic “yes” to every prayer request. God knows what is best for us. We may never receive the answers we seek on this side of heaven, but we must accept God’s sovereignty. We must learn to be content in whatever state we find ourselves. God tells Paul that His grace is more than sufficient for anything Paul has to go through in life. And His grace is more than sufficient for every believer, regardless of the “yes” or “no” we may receive in prayer.

Reflection: Have you ever prayed and received “no” as the answer from God? How did you handle it? Was that the appropriate response? Why or why not?

Prayer: Father, help me to trust You even more. Let me not become bitter and angry when You have to say “no” or “not yet” to my prayer requests. Help me submit to Your will in every area of my life. Let my joy remain full through my faith and trust in You as I continue to believe the plans You have for my life are good. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Upcoming Connect 21 Events

  1. Saturday Morning Prayer (Jan 20th @ 9 am at The Way Woodstock 109 Towne Lake Pkwy, Woodstock GA)
  2. Sunday Morning Service (Jan 21st @ 10 am at River Ridge High School)
  3. Prayer Masterclass (Wednesday, Jan 24th via YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/@linkedupnorth)