When Prayer Doesn’t Go Our Way…
The highly esteemed former pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones wrote, “I am profoundly grateful to God that He did not grant me certain things for which I asked, and that He shut certain doors in my face.” Most of us are well versed with the idea that God always answers prayer, it’s just that sometimes His answer is no. And when prayer doesn’t go our way, it may not be easy to swallow. That is because we unfortunately have come to believe that our belonging to God obligates Him to answer our prayers in the manner that we wish for Him to. Yet when God answers no to our prayers it is for one of two reasons. First, it is because He has a better idea of what is best for us. Or second, it is because the nature of our request does not align itself with the higher and sometimes secret will of God related to His eternal Kingdom and purposes. The fact is, the purpose of God is almost always more important than our own wants and wishes. It’s why the Bible counsels us to pray within the framework of God’s will. There is no better illustration of this than Jesus himself who, in the garden, prayed that the “cup” of suffering and the cross be removed if possible, while submitting to the will and higher purpose of God (Luke 22:42)
R.T. Kendall writing in his book It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over says, “One of the reasons God does not say yes to our prayer requests—or stop evil and suffering [is] that we might have faith. After all, if you knew the reason for evil, you would not need faith at all. Furthermore, if God instantly answered every single request you put to Him, you would not really need faith. But for some reason God has chosen to create a universe in which people must believe His Word. It is faith that pleases God (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, God not telling us why He allows suffering is an opportunity for us to believe Him. To trust Him. Likewise, God not telling us the reason He does not answer our prayers is that we might trust Him. Therefore, God says no to some of our requests partly because He is looking for faith in us when we don’t get what we want.”
Now, don’t let the fact that God says no to some of your prayers keep you from praying. All good fathers know when to say yes and when to say no, and they know that whichever answer they give is best for their child in that moment. And since that is true, how much more so is it of our heavenly father. In fact, it is wise to learn to thank God for the “no’s” as much as you do for the yeses! God has a reason for both and sooner or later we will understand, though sometimes we may have to wait until heaven.
In the meantime, keep praying. You become more proficient in prayer and more in line with God’s will by consistent time spent privately with Him. In other words, the more time you spend in His Word listening to Him, the more acquainted you become with His will and that helps align your prayers with His plan and purpose.
So, don’t give up on prayer, don’t despair in prayer and don’t stop praying when prayer doesn’t go your way. Rather, receive it as the loving answer from your heavenly Father who knows what’s best for His children. And remember, God is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor!
For God’s Glory Alone,