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Monday, July 29, 2013

When God Says No

We know that God answers prayer. But He doesn’t always answer our prayers in the affirmative. Many times, He closes a door or flat out shows us or tells us “No.” There’s always a purpose behind His answers. Sometimes we understand that purpose, and sometimes we really and truly are left asking why.

We’re not alone. Here are some Bible characters that prayed and got “no” answers. First, we’ll look at what they prayed, then what the answer was, then why. Notice that some of the “no” answers were really “not now.”

Genesis 15:2-5
Prayer—Abram (later Abraham) complained to God that he didn’t have an heir. (I guess this was a kind of prayer; he was telling God about it.)
Answer—God said, “Look at the stars. Number them. You will have that many descendants—so many that they can’t be numbered.” (My paraphrase of Genesis 15:5) This was God’s promise. But, the answer didn’t come right away.
Why—God wanted Abram to believe Him. He also wanted to do something amazing. The child of promise, Isaac, would be born when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90! (Genesis 21:2-7)

Deuteronomy 3:23-26
Prayer—Moses asked God to let him cross over the Jordan River so he could see the Promised Land.
Answer—God was furious with him and told him “no.” He was to prepare Joshua to go over and lead Israel.
Why—Moses, the leader of Israel, had hit the rock instead of talked to it. He didn’t give God the glory for the provision of water, and he was held accountable. Before he died, he was allowed to see the Promised Land but not to enter it. (Numbers 20:10-12)

2 Samuel 12:16-18
Prayer—David fasted and prayed that his newborn child would survive.
Answer—The child (by Bathsheba) died.
Why—David was judged for his sexual sin and murder. (2 Samuel 12:10-14)

1 Kings 19:4
Prayer—Elijah asked God to let him die.
Answer—God told him to eat and drink, and He provided a cake and water for him. God did not want Elijah to die at this time.
Why—God would further use Elijah as His prophet, to show more of God’s miracles, and to train Elisha and the school of the prophets.

John 11:1-7, 20-44
Prayer—Lazarus was sick, and Jesus was sent for. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to heal him.
Answer—Jesus waited to go. When He got there, Lazarus was dead and in the tomb. Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus’ body was and raised him from the dead.
Why—Jesus wanted people to believe. As a result of Lazarus coming forth from the grave after being dead for four days, Jesus manifested His unique power, and many believed on Him. (John 11:45)

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Prayer—Paul asked God three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh.”
Answer—God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Why—God desires the best for every one of His children. Paul finally understood that God didn’t want him to think too much of himself, so his permanent physical problem was actually a gift from God, a reminder to give God the glory for any success. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

What are the common threads when God says “no” or “not now”? We can be confident that when God makes us wait, it’s not His time for whatever we’re asking for. When He says “no” it’s because He knows best. God is sovereign. His judgment is always fair, always best. He understands all and knows all, and He is the source of all wisdom.

When we pray, whether God answers “yes,” “no,” or “not now,” we can be sure that He has the matter under control. He knows best. He decides best, and we are always in the best of hands.

We pray.

God answers.

His answer is always best.


  1. Si que es verdad que Dios responde en su tiempo yo ,llevaba mucho tiempo pidiendo por un trabajo y ahora ya lo tengo. Esperar su respuesta con paciencia es lo que el Señor quiere que hagamos.

    1. Me alegro que hayas visto la mano de Dios en tu vida--y que tengas trabajo. ¡Que el Señor te siga bendiciendo!

  2. I've been very thankful God has said "No" to some prayer requests - though sometimes it's hard at first.

    1. Love this, Barbara. It's true; we can be so thankful for God's wisdom and when He tells us no. Thank you for your comment.


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